Ninth place for Tom Coronel in Japanese GT race
In his third race of the Autobacs JGTC, the Japanese GT Championship, at Sugo Dutchman Tom Coronel finished in ninth place. Given the circumstances Coronel has to cope with it was the maximum result he could get today. Together with his G'ZOX Mugen teammate Daisuke Ito he started the race over 81 laps from sixth position. Victory went to the Team Le Mans Toyota of Juichi Wakisaka and Akira Iida.
"We definitely wanted to end up higher. In practice we were the second fastest Honda NSX by a margin of just 95/100 of a second. With that sixth place we were behind three Toyota Supras a Nissan Skyline and the Dome Honda NSX. The Nissan and the Toyota are in a different league than our Honda, even when they carry a lot of handicap weight like some of them did today. My teammate started the race and brought the car in for our regular pitstop lying in ninth place. We had a very quick driver change, but not a perfect one. Something broke off from the seat adjustment, so I could not get it completely to the back.Of course there was no time to repair, so I went out on the seat position of Daisuke. Soon I found out that the seat position of my 20 cm shorter teammate is far from perfect for me. Very annoying because I had to stick with it for the rest of the race. After some laps I started to get more or less used to it. I had to put my leg nearly horizontal to brake and also the position of my arms was far from perfect. Despite that I managed to climb up to sixth place, but in the battle with the Toyotas and the Nissans I could not hold on to that place".
As might be known Coronel and his teammate Ito compete in the GT500 class which is the main category in Japanese GT Racing. Until last year the Hondas were extremely successful which resulted in a bigger restrictor for the engine. The second class in the JGTC is the GT300 class, referring to the estimated horsepower of the machines. In the current situation Tom Coronel puts the Honda NSX in a fictive GT400 class which means that the car is always a bit behind on the opposition. Coronel says "You can really notice it in a fight on the track. Under acceleration and on top speed we lack that extra final bit of power that you need to gain a place. The only advantage we have at this race is that we will not have any handicap weight, unlike the top finishers of today". It was also announced that the presumed next round of the series that was scheduled for Sepang in Malaysia has been cancelled due to the SARS outbreak in that area. A replacement race will be held at Fuji in July. Another unscheduled race for Tom Coronel will take place as early as next Saturday and Sunday. The Dutchman will start in the 24 hour race at the infamous Nordschleife of the Nürburgring. He will share a BMW of the Schubert team with his Carly Motors teammate Duncan Huisman and fellow Dutchman Donald Molenaar, who contests the German Touringcar Series for Schubert Motors. "Strangely enough I never raced there. It is something I really look forward to, especially the challenge of the 20.8 km Nordschleife with all its history and drama", Coronel concluded.
The participation of Tom Coronel in the Japanese GT Championship is made possible by his Dutch sponsors : McGregor, Apex, Castrol, Bridgestone, Autobedrijf Beelen and Clifford.