Tom Coronel demonstrated today that he did not forget how to celebrate a podium finish. Together with his G'ZOX Honda NSX teammate Daisuke Ito the Dutch driver finished second in the Pokka 1000km race of Suzuka. The Dutch Japanese duo finished just behind fellow Honda drivers Ryo Michigami and Sebastien Philippe. Although the race is not part of the Japanese GT championship and therefore not all the JGTC teams were present, it clearly demonstrates that Honda is on their way back to their winning form in Japan.
"I never experienced such a heat during a race", Tom said afterwards. " The gap with the winning NSX was about 34 seconds which indicates that we are getting closer to the top. Honda worked hard to improve the car, but on the other hand the twisty nature of Suzuka suits our car much better than the long straights of Fuji. We showed our form before on tracks like this and I am happy with the progress we made, especially because the remaining races of the JGTC season will be held on tracks like this. Hopefully we will score some more podiums before the end of the season". The Pokka 1000 km race of Suzuka lasted for about six hours which equaled 173 laps for the winning car. Due to the early sunset in Japan the race finished in utter darkness which created a typical endurance-classic atmosphere.
The heat was unbelievable. At Le Mans I was complaining about it in the Spyker and I thought it couldn't get any hotter. However it could, as the thermometers indicated 38 degrees Celcius - and that was just outside the cockpit. Of course we used coolsuits, but they were cooling so much that they caused irritation to the skin. We only wear our fireproof underwear under the coolsuits so after the race I had some bad spots on my chest. I guess it will all be fine after a couple of days, but it indicates how heavy this race was. Of course the results make up for it, champagne is a very good healer. My teammate started the race and lost some ground in the early stages. After my stint he also did his second run and after that I did another stint which brought us from light to darkness. This brought back the Le Mans feeling a bit. Due to the darkness the temperatures also dropped quickly, which made life a lot better behind the wheel. Meanwhile we had climbed back up to second place again, but the leaders were too far ahead to launch an attack. As we had a safe margin on the Toyota Supra of Takeuchi / Tachikawa / Shimoda in third place we could bring the car home without any problems" Tom Coronel concluded.
The next race for Tom Coronel will be in two weeks time when he will drive the Carly Motors BMW at the Swedish track of Anderstorp for the next round of the European Touringcar Championship. A week after that he will be back in Japan for the sixth round of the Japanese GT series at Motegi.
The participation of Tom Coronel in the Pokka 1000km race of Suzuka is made possible by his Dutch sponsors : McGregor, Apex, Castrol, Bridgestone, Autobedrijf Beelen en Clifford.