SEAT driver Tom Coronel reflects on successful season despite bad luck an Macau
Despite there were no podium finishes or championship points today for Tom Coronel this weekend the SEAT Team Holland driver is looking back on the 2008 FIA WTCC season with a good feeling. Both races of the final round of the World Touring Car Championship traditionally took place at the treacherous Macau street circuit. For the Dutch driver the practice sessions did not work out the way he and his team wanted. A crash in the second practice session damaged the car severely while Coronel ended the first race one lap behind the leader due to a flat tyre. In the second race a broken drive shaft caused a premature end to the race. The battle for the world title went to SEAT Sport driver Yvan Muller, as his only threat, fellow SEAT Sport driver Gabriele Tarquini failed to create enough distance between himself and Muller. Tom Coronel will now return to the Netherlands hoping that he will continue his campaign on the highest level of touring car racing in 2009.
"Macau is always a difficult track. Everything has to be perfect in order to score. In free practice things were OK and I was always between p13 and p17. Normally I am not satisfied with these positions, but you have to consider that we got a lot of extra weight following our victory in Japan. We now had 65 kg of extra weight on board and you certainly notice it when you go up the hills here. It was an extra handicap, but the trophy that is associated with it has a place of honour in my house now", Tom Coronel says with a smile.
After a good first practice session on Friday we decided to leave the car as it was and not to take too much risk in the next session before qualifying. However all of a sudden the car broke out with heavy oversteer, and then the run off area is very limited. The wall is always nearby and the car was severely damaged. I have to give the SunRed crew a big compliment as they managed to rebuild the car in nearly three hours, with only the interior of the car left unchanged. They completed the job when qualifying was already underway. We went out immediately and took 17th place in the end. Giving the circumstances this was the maximum we could get out of it. The first laps of the opening race went well. I managed to climb up to 13th and the car felt good. I even set the one but fastest lap. Unfortunately I suffered from a flat tyre and I had to abandon. The second race I had to abandon with a broken drive shaft. So this weekend was not our most fortunate of the season, but that is also a part of racing. Looking back on the season we had with SEAT Team Holland and SunRed engineering I have to conclude it was the best one so far. Never before I scored a victory and a second place. Also don't forget the races in Mexico. We were right up there and challenging for a podium finish. I really feel at home in this championship and I really hope we can continue our deal with SEAT in The Netherlands for next year. Especially in the Netherlands the attention for the FIA WTCC is growing. At one stage we even had four Dutchmen competing in one WTCC race. Of course this also had a positive effect on the media attention and it also reflects on the sporting image of SEAT. For next year all parties involved in our WTCC campaign have the intention to continue, but we need to have some more patience before everything is finalized", Tom Coronel said.
Meanwhile Tom Coronel will not have much of a winter break. Together with his twin brother Tim he will enter the Dakar Rally. The Coronel brothers will share a Bowler Nemesis for the Dakarsport.com team. For the first time the rally will take place in South America, however it has lost nothing of its adventurous challenge through the desert. The start will take place on 3 January 2009 in Buenos Aires where the survivors of the rally will also cross the finish line two weeks later.