Tom Coronel fourth in opening round of Japanese GT championship.

Tom Coronel and his teammate Daisuke Ito started their 2003 campaign in the Japanese GT series with a fourth place. The Dutch / Japanese driver pairing of the G'ZOX Mugen NSX team qualified their Honda NSX in third place, but did not manage to hold on to that position in the race over 82 laps. Especially the tyres had a hard time and caused a lot of oversteer towards the end of the race.

The Japanese racefans still remember Tom Coronel. After his earlier successes in the Land of the Rising Sun in the period 1996 - 1999 he received a warm welcome on his comeback. "It is amazing to see the passion for racing here. The evening before the race a lot of people had already gathered before the gate. They sleep in tents or in cars to get in here as soon as possible. They don't want to miss a single thing of what's happening on the track. As for me I got here a bit earlier as well. We had an extra testsession on Thursday. It all went quite well. We are eyeing top 5 positions, which we managed to do straightaway. In the test it immediately became clear that the Toyota Supra will be the car to beat this year. It is not that strange considering that they have a 5.3 liter engine while using the same restrictor as on our 3.5 liter Mugen engine. All in all we rounded off qualifying with a fine third place. My teammate started the race and brought the car into the pits for our regular stop on lap 37. At that time he was in sixth place. The pitcrew did a good job so I could start my stint for the second part of the race", Coronel said.

The Dutch driver decided with his team to use the soft compound tyres and slightly less wing on the car. He wanted to try to move up the order in the first part of his stint. "This was working out quite well. At some stage I was up into third place, but I lost out to that position in the heat of the battle. We were fighting all the time, which took its toll on the tyres. Oversteer increased lap after lap and I had to give it all not to spin. Still it happened which made me loose my spot on the podium, which was far from sure however. At that time we still had 14 laps to run and the cars behind me were simply quicker. Of course I was still trying to defend my position which I couldn't in the end. However fourth place is not that bad. Based on the race results there will be penalty weights for the next race. We will have ten kilos extra next time, which is not that bad. For the other cars the penalty can go up to 50 kilograms", Coronel concluded.

The next race of the Japanese GT series will be held at 4 May in Fuji. Tom Coronel however will be racing again next weekend in the ETCC at Barcelona. He will drive the BMW 320i prepared by Carly Motors alongside fellow Dutchman Duncan Huisman.

The participation of Tom Coronel in the Japanese GT Championship is made possible by his Dutch sponsors : McGregor, Apex, Castrol, Bridgestone, Autobedrijf Beelen en Clifford.