No dream start for Tom Coronel at Monza

The opening round of the FIA WTCC 2006 took place at the illustrious track of Monza. GR Asia SEAT Team Holland driver Tom Coronel failed to finish in the opening race and finished third in de privateer class in the second. The Dutch driver drove an ex works SEAT Toledo Cupra as he is still waiting for the delivery of his new SEAT Leon. Coronel hopes to switch over at the British round, which is the third race weekend of the series.

Supported by Dutch SEAT importer Pon Car and its partners Tom Coronel will enter the most important touring car series in the world. The FIA World Touring Car Championship is fought out in ten racing weekends that take place on three different continents of the world. "Of course the expectations are high for this year. We are aiming to win the Yokohama Independents Trophy for non-works teams. We are waiting for our new SEAT Leon but until the car is ready we are racing a SEAT Toledo Cupra. The car I will drive is the car that works driver Jordi Gene drove last year. It is built up to the latest specs. I could immediately feel the difference when I drove my first laps in practice. The shock absorbers are different from the ones we used on our Toledo last year. With this setup I can really attack the kerbstones so I could make maximum use of the track. Unfortunately attacking the kerbs also gave me a brake problem. After hitting the kerb the brake pad lost contact with the disk causing the system to loose brake pressure. I tried to build up the pressure again by pumping the brake pedal before the corner. Of course this way it is not possible to get the best out of your lap. This explains my somewhat disappointing 15th place in qualifying in which I was 15th overall and second of the privateers, but despite that just 9/10ths from pole position. The differences were very small in qualifying. Fortunately the GR Asia crew managed to fix the brake problem overnight and in the warm up on race day I was fifth quickest", Tom Coronel said.

After gaining confidence in the warm up session the SEAT Team Holland driver started the first race over nine laps. "I got of the line well. I was able to keep my second place in the privateers battle and I was closely following the people ahead of me. Some laps later I was in 13th place and first of the privateers. Everything was alright until works driver Jordi Gene was ahead of me and I had to slow down from 240 km/h to 80. The brakes could not cope with the pressure and I hit the Leon on the rear. At first i though I could continue without any problems, but the temperature kept on rising. Apparently the radiator did not survive the collision with Gene. I had to go to the pits and that was it for the first race. Fortunately the engineers were able to repair the car for the second race which I had to start from the back of the grid, in 31st place. Once again I had a good start and I had some good fights with Morbidelli and Sharp. There was action all around me and also for me there was no escape. Sharp missed his braking point and hit me hard from behind. The worst thing was that he hit me on my exhaust pipe, causing the car to loose power. This made an end to my march through the field. I stayed in thirteenth place overall and third of the privateers. All in all it was not the dream start I hoped for following the promising signs before the race, but at least we scored some points for the Yokohama Independents Trophy. The next race will take place at Magny Cours and I thing we should be able to get a better result there", Tom Coronel concluded.

Tom Coronel and GR Asia SEAT Team Holland are supported by: SEAT Holland Pon Car, McGregor, Splitfire, MAN Truck and Bus, Noble Group, ATP The Advanced Travel Partner, , Auto Motor Sport, and Hertz.