Bad luck in both races of Argentine season.
Santiago del Estero – The 2015 FIA WTCC season got underway at the 4.8 kilometres long Autodromo Termas de Rio Hondo in Argentina. For Tom Coronel, the season opener marked his first outing with the DHL-yellow Chevrolet Cruze, run by ROAL Motorsport. Temperatures rose high at the circuit where the 43-year-old Dutchman claimed ninth place on the grid for the first race. This also got him a position on the front row of the starting grid for the second race.
Of course, making it to the finish without problems was Coronel's goal for the first race. He only partly
succeeded, because problems with a hose of the turbo compressor forced the Dutch driver to turn into the pits while in fourth place. Once the problem had been solved, Coronel went out again and noticed that the engine ran at full power again.
Argentina is a beautiful country, but earlier this year in the Dakar rally and now in the FIA WTCC, I am not particularly lucky there.
The second race saw plenty of turmoil at the start, but Coronel prevailed and led the field out of the first corner. Honda driver Tarquini followed in second place with a pair of Citroëns right behind him after a strong start. They were superior and Coronel was down to third pretty soon. In his efforts to hold on to a top five position, the Dutchman made a mistake and ended up in the grass next to the track. As the safety car was deployed, Coronel turned into the pits, because the temperature of the engine in the Cruze rose rapidly. He made it back into the field, but then parked his car in the pits and ended his race.
After the races, Tom Coronel found clear words: "I threw it away myself, especially in the second race. Too bad, because things were getting better and better as the weekend progressed. Initially, I had a small pick-up issue, but that was solved quickly. The free practice sessions gave me the first laps of this year with the car in dry conditions and I found a good rhythm.
Eventually, we found a set-up that we thought was the best. In Q1, it was quite thrilling with P12. We felt that we should have been a little bit further up, but we still made it into Q2. Then, the power steering pump failed. I did the last four corners without power steering, but that is impossible, especially with the heat here. I still finished my lap and I ended up ninth. That was very good for the reversed grid of race 2."
"In race 1, I had a poor start and lost some positions very early in the race. I lost top speed and I had to turn into the pits. There, it turned out that there was no pressure in the hose from the turbocharger to the intercooler. Once the problem was repaired, I rejoined the race and everything worked fine again. I had a great start into race 2. There was a Honda alongside me, but he couldn't get past. I led the field until I had massive oversteer in turn 7. The Citroëns benefited and went past, but I still managed to keep the Hondas at bay.
A little bit later, I made a mistake, ran into the grass next to the track and lost a certain top five finish there. Once again, the engine temperature rose and I went into the pits again. There, the crew removed the grass from the radiator and I rejoined the race, but the splitter and the undertray turned out to have been damaged as well, so there was no point in continuing. Argentina is a beautiful country, but earlier this year in the Dakar rally and now in the FIA WTCC, I am not particularly lucky there. It was not the start of the season that we had hoped for, but at least we know that we can challenge for good positions."
Result race 1: 1. José María López 13 laps; 2. Yvan Muller +3.170; 3. Sébastien Loeb +7.500 (all Citroën Racing C-Elysée); 4. Tiago Monteiro +14.168; 5. Gabriele Tarquini +16.322; 6. Norbert Michelisz +18.470 (all Honda Civic WTCC) and 14. Tom Coronel (ROAL Motorsport Chevrolet Cruze) +4 laps.
Result race 2: 1. Sébastien Loeb 15 laps; 2. José María López +4.690 (both Citroën Racing C-Elysée); 3. Tiago Monteiro +10.149; 4. Gabriele Tarquini +11.564 (both Honda Civic WTCC); 5. Mehdi Bennani +14.956 (Citroën Racing C-Elysée) and Tom Coronel (ROAL Motorsport Chevrolet Cruze) retired