Tom Coronel is one of the FIA touring cars veterans.
The Dutch driver joined in the 2002 European Touring Car Championship and has not left since. His WTCC record includes four race victories, two Yokohama Trophy titles and the fourth position in the 2011 Drivers’ Championship.
This year he will be racing again for ROAL Motorsport – his fourth season with the Italian team; however, they have dropped the BMW 320 TC car and switched to the RML-built Cruze.
RML-built cars dominated the championship in latest years; what do you expect from the 2014-spec Cruze? “It is always difficult to say, as I don’t know the team enough. But during the last few years I was jealous of the drivers who were racing the RML Chevrolet cars that were the fastest by far. The people at RML have a lot of experience and know what they are doing. So, now that ROAL Motorsport and myself have the opportunity to race their cars… you can imagine the smile on my face!”
WTCC goes back to Belgium, providing an event close enough to your home; is this an extra motivation for you? “Oh yes! I have a lot of fans in the Netherlands and Belgium, thanks to RTL7 that broadcast all WTCC rounds in a 40-minute programme just before the F1 races. In the last ten years this made me famous, and now the event in Spa-Francorchamps will provide my many Dutch and Belgian supporters with the chance to smell the championship and touch the cars once again.”
The field looks highly competitive with Citroën, Honda and LADA factory teams, and a bunch of RML cars; what are your feelings about the different forces? “It seems that Citroën is far ahead off all the others, because they started testing months ago and because of their budget. So it will be difficult. Honda has built a strong team, with strong drivers and they have last year’s experience. LADA also has good drivers and may benefit from Oreca’s great experience and technical knowledge. But I’m confident. I trust the RML Group and ROAL Motorsport.”
On the paper the alliance between RML and ROAL Motorsport is a very strong package; what are your ambitions for 2014? “To fight for podiums, win races and be among the top-three in the Drivers’ Championship. These are ambitious goals, but I think we have a strong potential to go and achieve them.”