Tom Coronel clinches Michelin Independents Trophy 2004
In the penultimate round of the FIA European Touring Car Championship 2004 Dutch driver Tom Coronel clinched the Michelin Independents Trophy 2004. By winning the first of the two races at Oscherleben in de privateer category Coronel was already assured of the title and as a bonus he also won the second race to confirm his domination in this year's battle of the privateers. Tom Coronel succeeds fellow Dutchman Duncan Huisman as winner of the Independents Trophy and for Carly Motors it means the second consecutive privateers title.
Tom Coronel started off well in qualifying. "I qualified eleventh overall, just behind my team mate for this weekend, Duncan Huisman. It wasn't that bad as the factory drivers were just in a different league this time. More important for me that I was five places ahead of Alessandro Balzan, my nearest opponent in the Michelin Independents Trophy. Salvatore Tavano however was in front of me. He was the only other driver with a mathematical chance to win the privateers title. From the start I began to consolidate my new set of tyres. I only attacked the guys ahead of me when I could really beat them, but all the time I was thinking about the risk that I took. My goal was to make it to the finish without problems and damage. Eight place in the first race has been my goal almost all through the season, and it was definitively a realistic goal. Eight in the first race gives you pole for the second and despite some people holding me up in front I managed to take it."
Eight place overall also meant first in the privateer battle so with that in mind Tom Coronel could take a different approach for the second race. "Now I could really go for it! I benefited from pole and I had a good start. However the factory cars were just quicker so it would not be fair to hold them up for much longer. Rickard Rydell passed me and of course I also had to let the factory supported BMWs of Jorg and Dirk Muller through. James Thompson and Augusto Farfus had to work a bit harder in order to get by though. After that I changed to attack mode. This worked out fine as the guys ahead of me started to get problems with the tyre wear. In the final stages fellow BMW driver Antonio Garcia was closing up on me. At the beginning he was still friendly, but later on he started to annoy me by pushing my tail once to often. It all came to a conclusion when he tried to outbrake me. We both went off and he did not really make it. I was able to continue and finished fourth overall and again best of the privateers", Tom Coronel said.
For both Tom Coronel and the Carly Motors team their goal for this season have been reached. The Michelin Independents Trophy 2004 has been clinched. Besides that BMW motorsports clinched the overall manufacturers championship. The drivers title will be decided at the final championship round in Dubai and will go between Andy Priaulx, Jorg and Dirk Muller, all BMW drivers. At the moment is not clear whether the the Carly Motors team will make the trip to the Middle East.
Duncan Huisman did a fine job in his one off ETCC appearance so far. He scored two tenth places. The first race at Oschersleben was won by Andy Priaulx in a BMW while Rickard Rydell scored Seat's first ETCC victory in the second race
Tom Coronel is supported this year in the European Touring Car Championship by McGregor, Autocentrum Beelen, Kruidvat, BBS, JBL and Apex.