JCTC: Tom Coronel round six Motegi report

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Tom Coronel has a busy, but also successful racing schedule. After his earlier second place finish at the Pokka 1000km race at Suzuka, the Dutchman was victorious in the sixth round of the Japanese GT Series at Motegi. Joined by his G'ZOX Honda...

Tom Coronel has a busy, but also successful racing schedule. After his earlier second place finish at the Pokka 1000km race at Suzuka, the Dutchman was victorious in the sixth round of the Japanese GT Series at Motegi. Joined by his G'ZOX Honda NSX teammate Daisuke Ito Coronel started the race from third place on the grid. After 63 exciting laps the nr.16 G'ZOX Honda NSX took the chequered flag while leading the race.

After the recent ETCC race at Anderstorp in which he scored a ninth and a tenth place Tom Coronel jumped on the plane to Japan. "When I left it was about 16 degrees Celsius, so I took an extra coat to stay warm. Here in Japan I didn't need it at all. It was 34 degrees Celsius here so instead I had to take on a coolsuit. Motegi is a Honda owned circuit, so more or less a home race for us, which also brings some expectations regarding results. We were able to live up to the expectations, maine because the engineers managed to make some improvements to the car. We now have a new engine that revs 500 rpm higher. Furthermore we made some changes to the aerodynamics. Especially at the front the NSX was better than before. The top ten field was always close together. In free practice we were fastest on old tyres and full tanks, but during testing we were all the time in sixth or seventh place. In qualifying we ended up in third, just 17/100th from pole, while the top eight was within eight tenths from pole", Coronel said.

Compared to most of the other top teams the Dutch Japanese team did not suffer from a weight handicap. "We were not that successful in the earlier races, so we were not punished with extra weight. Now we go to the more twisty tracks that suit our car much better, especially since we are down on weight compared to the opposition. In the warm up the changes to the race setup of the NSX proved to be effective. My teammate Daisuke Ito took the first stint of the race. Shortly before he came into the pits to hand over the car he was in second place while the TOM'S Toyota of Erik Comas and Takeshi Tsuchiya was leading. We planned our pitstop in lap 27, quite a bit earlier than the rest of the teams. While I was back out on the track the others came in. My teammanager was shouting enthusiastically on the radio, but I couldn't really understand what he was saying. However when I crossed the finish straight I understood his enthusiasm, as we were now in the lead of the race. We were able to hold on to our advantage and build up a lead of about four seconds. Sometimes it was a bit more, sometimes a bit less, but we were always in control. This enabled us to bring the car home in first place. It was a heavy but satisfying race. This clearly proves that the regulations help to keep the championship race open for everybody. Now we are in good shape again and with the next races at Autopolis and Suzuka in mind we are full of confidence for successful end to the season. In 1999 I won the All Star race at Autopolis, so we have definitively some good memories lying there", Coronel concluded.

-tcr-

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