Tom Coronel concudes “best FIA WTCC season ever” with point-scoring finish in Qatar
LOSAIL (25 November, 2016) – At the Losail circuit in Qatar, Tom Coronel and his fellow drivers concluded the 2016 FIA World Touring Car Championship season with a pair of races that, as usual, were held in the dark. During the final race weekend of the season, which marked the final appearance of the Lada and Citroën works teams and three times world champion Yvan Muller, Coronel again managed to score world championship points by finishing ninth in the second race. In total, Coronel scored points in 16 of this year’s 22 races. With the Chevrolet-RML Cruze TC1 in the colours of DHL and Eurol, run by Italian team, ROAL Motorsport, the Dutchman had what he refers to as his best season ever: “We made the impossible happen with, among others, two race wins and a second place.” Coronel ends up eleventh in the final FIA WTCC drivers’ standings and third in the WTCC Trophy for privateer drivers. “And now, we are already fully involved in the negotiations for next year, because there is no doubt that I want to be back in the WTCC in 2017,” he says.
The race weekend in Qatar, which was the eleventh WTCC meeting of the season following the cancellation of the races in Thailand, didn’t start in the best way for Coronel. In first free practice, a shock absorber on his car broke and in second free practice, the left front wheel came off his car. “As a result, I lacked some track time in preparation for qualifying and the lap times reflected this,” Coronel reported. Classified 13th in qualifying, he just missed out on the second qualifying heat for the twelve fastest drivers, in which he could have achieved a betrer starting grid position for the first race based on the ‘reversed grid’ ruling. “Now, I had to start both races from 13th place, knowing that overtaking here is difficult and the circuit doesn’t really suit our Chevrolet.”
“In the first race, I noticed at the start that the ‘start lever’, a sort of hand brake to pre-load the car, didn’t work. As a result, the start wasn’t perfect and, as I said, overtaking was difficult, as we already knew beforehand. Thus, I ended up in twelfth place. In the second race, I had a great start, I was on the pace straight away and I was right behind Nicky Catsburg and Hugo Valente. These two tangled and came off the track, after which I was in ninth place. Then, I managed to keep that position. I was behind Huff for a long time. In the closing stages, he slightly pulled away from my while I was able to increase the gap to the drivers behind me. Apart from the opening lap, the race wasn’t particularly spectacular, but it was good to see that we were on the pace.”
All in all, Coronel is more than happy when looking back on the season that has now come to an end. His victories at Marrakesh and Vila Real and his second place in Argentina stand out as the undisputed highlights. “And don’t forget the Nordschleife either, where we qualified third behind the works-Citroëns,” he adds. “All these results were much better than what we had hoped for prior to the season. Especially on the street circuits, we were strong and we made the impossible happen. The first talks with ROAL Motorsport team boss Roberto Ravaglia have already taken place. It is our mutual intention to continue the co-operation, that already has been going on for six years now, in 2017 as well. Together, we are a very closely-knit team and I will do my utmost to ensure that we will be back on the grid together for the FIA World Touring Car Championship next year!”