Tom Coronel champion FIA WTCC Independents Trophy 2009
Also this year the decision in the FIA World Touring Car Championship took place in Macau. The races on this tight and challenging street circuit have always been known for their unpredictable outcome. This year would be no exception. The first race proceeded without too much drama, but it was all different in the second race. Especially in the final stages things went dramatically wrong causing the race to be stopped three laps before the end. Therefore the championships were decided prematurely.
All titles went to SEAT. Besides the general manufacturers title Coronel's team SUNRED Engineering won the teams title in the Yokohama Independents Trophy. SEAT Sport driver Gabriele Tarquini took the overall drivers title and SEAT Team Holland driver Tom Coronel won the title for privateers drivers in his Noble Group SEAT Leon TFSi. The latter title is officially called the Yokohama Independents Trophy 2009. For the Dutchman it was a matter of staying on the road and take away as much points as possible from the opposition. He started the first of the two races from 13th place and succeeded in his mission. Despite all the hectics Coronel took victory in his class and was virtually sure of the title now. However in Macau double points were at stake and Independents runners can gain bonus points for a top 8 finish. Coronel virtually had one hand on the trophy already, although it seemed to slip away from him when he encountered his teammate Tom Boardman, who had just crashed in front of him. Coronel's car was damaged and out of the points. The Dutch SEAT driver went to the pits and got a new radiator from his SUNRED crew with which he could complete the race. Coronel rejoined, but was several laps down. He never got a chance to make up some ground as the race was stopped three laps before the end and was not restarted. As a result Tom Coronel ended the race in 22nd place with three laps down. His rival for the Independents title failed to score sufficient points however, so Coronel's margin was more than enough to secure the title.
"From the first day that we arrived here it all went fine. That gives you a good feeling straight away", Tom Coronel says. "The car felt good, the team was enthusiastic and in the first practice session we were right up there. When we arrived here I had a good points margin for the title, but still not enough to be safe. I was careful in practice to keep the car out of the barriers, something that not everybody managed to do. Third placed privateer d'Aste crashed out in qualifying and had to miss both races. In the end I took 13th spot in qualifying and I was the fastest of the Independent runners with my main rival Felix Porteiro right behind me. After practice and qualifying I had enough time to give interviews to the media and spend time with my extra sponsors for this weekend Noble Group and Sealub, who are both situated nearby in Hong Kong with their headquarters. Furthermore I prepare as well as I could for the first race. Macau is a paradise for gambling but the gambling is more predictable than the racing here! You definitely need some luck to get through the first few laps here. This is my tenth year in Macau and I always enjoy it here. I like street circuits and Macau is the best you can get out of a street circuit. I had a good start for the first race and immediately I moved up to tenth. Behind me were some works drivers who were no threat to my position in the Independents Trophy, so I let them go. My mission was to finish first in the privateer class. This worked out well, so I collected a trophy and, more importantly 20 points for the championship. Immediately after the podium ceremony I had to jump in the car again for the second race. This one would be far more eventful. The excitement started for me when my teammate Tom Boardman spun just ahead of me. His car was like a pinball between the armcos. There was no way I could avoid him. His race was definitely over, but I managed to get the car back to the pits. The team replaced the radiator and I could rejoin, although way down the order. Shortly afterwards the race was stopped with a red flag due to a huge crash which was initiated by Felix Porteiro. Fortunately he was unhurt, but when I saw he was out I knew that despite my position outside the points the championship was mine. For the second time I can take home the World title for Independent drivers. A good result in a year that we finished all of the races. In fact today's second race was the only zero points score of the year! For me that was the key to winning the title, always be there take home some points. All in all it was a good and fair season in which we had to fight hard to get our results. Together with all our sponsors we managed to make it to the end of the season and win the title. A World title and for me it could not be better!", Tom Coronel concluded.
Tom Coronel is supported by: SEAT Nederland, TW Steel big in oversized watches, McGregor fashion, Beelen demolition works, Saarloos Automotive, Sealub, Noble Group and Olympia staffing.