SEAT driver Tom Coronel ends WTCC season with points in Macau
Macau, November 21st, 2010 - SEAT driver Tom Coronel had a weekend with ups and downs during the season finale of the FIA World Touring Car Championship (WTCC) at the Macau street circuit. He set fast lap times in the free practice sessions, but in qualifying, he crashed twice. In the two races, he again showed a strong performance and was able to make up quite a few positions. In the second race, he scored eight points for the world championship. "It was a very special weekend again, just what Macau is like. Here, something unexpected always happens," said Tom Coronel. With his SEAT Leon TDI in the colours of McGregor and TW Steel, he ended up eighth in the final WTCC standings.
"Macau is very special time and again," said Tom Coronel, who already arrived in Macau on Tuesday in order to acclimatise. "The weather is fine there and nowhere else can you find so much action around the race. The city itself, with its casinos, its huge hotels and many restaurants is special. On top of that, racing at the circuit here is like a lottery. You can win a lot, but you also need a little bit of luck, and sometimes you can lose a lot, too." These would turn out to be prophetic words...
Fourth fastest in second free practice
In testing on Thursday evening, Coronel ended up fourth fastest as the best- placed SEAT driver with a lap time of 2:34.116 minutes. "All the drivers in front of me had new tyres while I drove with used tyres. The car felt very well, things went fine and I felt at home as ever", he said. One day later, the two free practice sessions took place. In first free practice, Coronel was eighth fastest with a time of 2:33.676 minutes. In second free practice, he was classified fourth with a time of 2:33.484 minutes. "I only did six laps. I was happy with the set-up, everything went fine."
Qualifying took place on Friday afternoon. In the 20 minutes' session, Tom Coronel again experienced the particular characteristics of Macau. At the end of his first flying lap, he hit the concrete wall with the left-hand side of his car. "I was on a good qualifying lap," he reported afterwards. "I was following Andy Priaulx and went a little bit too wide, maybe I was a little bit too closely behind him. Unfortunately, I couldn't avoid the impact." The left front wheel broke off and the car was significantly damaged.
A quick repair
The accident happened close to the pit lane entry, so that Coronel was able to deliver the damaged car to his team. He was fortunate that in the accident, not only his car, but also the wall was damaged. Repair work lasted about 50 minutes, which allowed the mechanics of the Sunred team to repair Coronel's car in such a way that Coronel was able to get out onto the track again once the session was re-started. With the repaired car, he was able to complete a few timed laps, the fastest of which in 2:34.191 minutes. That was the 13th time in the 27 car field. After a few laps, however, trouble struck again, as Coronel hit the Armco barrier with the left-hand side of the car at Moorish Hill. "Sorry guys, it happened again," Coronel informed his team on the radio. He returned to the paddock, shaking his head. "Twice in a session is quite a lot..."
In warm-up on Sunday morning, Coronel ended up ninth with a repaired car. "The car is feeling great again. Hopefully, I can still make up a couple of places during the race. Often, staying out of problems already helps here at Macau." In the first race, Coronel already made clear how true these words were. Right after the start, some drivers crashed coming out of the first corner. Coronel indeed succeeded to steer clear of the problems and thus was already ninth after the opening lap. After four laps behind the safety car, Coronel collided with Darryl O'Young, who was driving in front of him. "The data after the race revealed that O'Young braked significantly earlier than before," said Coronel afterwards. For the incident, Coronel was given a drive-through penalty, after which he dropped back from sixth to twelfth place. "That showed that race control didn't really have a good view of the situation, but there is nothing you can do about such a decision," Coronel said.
World championship points in race two
Following a multiple car pile-up on the first lap, the second race had to be interrupted for almost half an hour, because the track was totally blocked by crashed cars. This accident didn't cause any problems for Coronel either. Again, he was able to make up quite a few places and eventually was classified sixth. "It was a fine race, I had some good fights and I also scored some points. It was a special weekend again, but that is what you can expect in Macau."
Generally, Coronel draws a positive verdict of the 2010 season. "At last, I had a car with which I was capable to race at the front end of the field and battle with drivers like Tarquini, Farfus, Priaulx, Monteiro. Indeed, I didn't win a race, and I had quite a few problems, but all in all, I have been able to show that I can do well. I will try everything to ensure that I am racing in this championship again next year, because I am convinced that the WTCC is the place where I belong. Thanks to my sponsors and to the team for a good season."