FNIPPON: Suzuka Tom Coronel Championship Review

Tom Coronel wins Japanese Formula Nippon championship Dutch driver Tom Coronel, 27 years old, won the Japanese Formula Nippon championship 1999. On the extremely twisty and short clubcircuit of Suzuka he and his rival for the championship, ...

Tom Coronel wins Japanese Formula Nippon championship

Dutch driver Tom Coronel, 27 years old, won the Japanese Formula Nippon championship 1999. On the extremely twisty and short clubcircuit of Suzuka he and his rival for the championship, Satoshi Motoyama, decided the championship in the first corner. Coronel entered the corner behind Motoyama and hit the rear wheel of the Japanese driver. The impact was that big that both drivers spun of the track and were unable to continue. With this result PIAA Nakajima driver maintained his lead of 4 points in the championship and clinched the title before the race was over. Ralph Firman stayed out of trouble and led from start to finish.

"It was an absolutely thrilling weekend. In the first free practice session our cars were almost impossible to drive on this short circuit. Also in the first qualifying session things didn't improve. I was eighth fastest. From then on we made a radical change to the Reynard-Mugen. We turned the whole setup upside down. Caster, suspension rollbar, tyre pressures, rideheight, you name it and we changed it. The only thing we did not change were the front springs. This turned out to be right thing to do as in the mega-exciting second session I took second place, just after Ralph Firman. Motoyama was third and therefore behind me" said a relieved Coronel after practice. Coronel further explained that most of the setup problems were caused by the changing weather conditions and the silly little track where they were driving. Also he pointed to the minimal differences between the drivers which were sometimes only hundredths of seconds.

The race on the Mickey Mouse Suzuka club circuit would offer few passing opportunities. Also the twisty nature of the track would be demanding for car and driver. Coronel started his race from the dirty part of the track. He remained calm. "I had a good start, but when I changed from first to second gear the rear slipped away a bit. At that moment Michael Krumm was driving on the inside and Motoyama on the outside of me, so when we turned into the corner there was hardly any space. I banged wheels with Motoyama and we went off in a big way. It was quite spectacular as our wheels were about one meter into the air. For both of us the race was over. But for me also the championship was decided in my favour. Super!!! Although I would have liked to raced for it!!", the fresh Formula Nippon champion said afterwards.

For Tom Coronel new times and possibilities are glooming on the horizon. Everybody knows that he has only one target for the new millennium: Racing in Formula 1! Together with his manager Willy Weber he is seriously looking at the possibilities to enter Formula 1. Nothing has been settled, but for sure the Formula Nippon championship will help to open some doors. A lot of successful Formula 1 drivers came to Grand Prix racing via Formula Nippon. Eddie Irvine and Heinz Harald Frentzen both finished second in the championship, while drivers like Ralph Schumacher and Pedro de la Rosa won the championship before. Furthermore Michael Schumacher, Johnny Herbert and Mika Salo gained useful experience in Japan. So Formula Nippon is definitively the final step to Formula 1. Tom Coronel counts on this and goes for the TOP!!!

Result Final race Formule Nippon at Suzuka Japan: 1. Ralph Firman (Shionogi Nova) 90 laps in 1.07.34.833; 2. Michael Krumm (5Zigen) at 2,284; 3. Juichi Wakisaka (Arta) 3.441; 4. Masami Kageyama (Impul) op 4.193; 5. Ryo Michigami (Mooncraft) 5.844 6. Hiroki Kato (Shionogi Nova) op 6.344.

Eindstand kampioenschap Formule Nippon na 10 races: 1. and Champion: Tom Coronel 50; 2. Satoshi Motoyama 46; 3. Hidetoshi Mitsusada 31; 4. Ralph Firman 21; 5. Michael Krumm 18 6. Masami Kageyama 17.

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series OPENWHEEL