Okayama: Tom Coronel weekend summary

Tom Coronel extends points lead in Japanese FIA WTCC weekend At the Japanese track of Okayama Tom Coronel managed to extend his lead in the Independents Trophy of the FIA World Touring Car Championship today. By winning the Independents class...

Tom Coronel extends points lead in Japanese FIA WTCC weekend

At the Japanese track of Okayama Tom Coronel managed to extend his lead in the Independents Trophy of the FIA World Touring Car Championship today. By winning the Independents class in race 1 he took the maximum amount of points. In the second race Coronel managed to take third place in his McGregor SEAT Leon TFSi, despite a small off-track excursion on the opening lap. With the final two races at Macau still to go, the Dutch SEAT driver has not wrapped up the title yet as double points will be awarded in the final round of the championship. Coronel is the outright favorite however as he now has a 30 point lead in the Yokohama Independent Trophy.

"Japan is still a special experience for me. Of course, I spent five years of my racing career here and last year I won my first WTCC race here, but that does not give you any guarantees for this weekend", Tom Coronel says. "Last year's success was very much related to the weather circumstances. It was wet, but not as wet as it was now. With a strategic combination of dry and wet weather tyres we managed to achieve a great result. This year we had much more rain. In free practice, when it was still dry, I noticed that we were losing out to our direct opponents. For qualifying therefore I had to think of another solution to close the gap to the leaders. This worked out pretty well after I got a tow from Rob Huff in the works Chevrolet. In his slipstream I set a good time, which brought me to 12th place overall and pole position in the Independents class. This pole also gave me an extra point for the Independents battle.

We started the first race behind the safety car and it was not too bad for me. Some drivers ahead of me went off and I outbraked a number of people which brought me in 8th position at some stage. However there were a couple of works drivers behind me that were clearly faster. I decided to let them go in order not to lose my Independent win. Tenth overall and a privateer class victory was more than we expected beforehand. With this result I started the second race from 10th on the grid, but somehow I did not have a good start. There was a lot of water on the track and I had to play a lot with the clutch and the throttle in order to get some grip. On the second corner it all went wrong. Ahead of me a lot of cars went off and I had just nowhere to go. I managed to rejoin the track via the gravel trap, but I was down in last position. My direct opponents for the privateer battle were already far out of sight and I decided to go for my own points and not take too much risks. In the end I managed to move up to 13th overall and third in the Independents class. The latter result was the most important for me as I lost a minimum amount of points to my Independent rivals. To be honest I expected to lose points this weekend, but we actually extended our lead a bit. The battle will be decided in Macau, the place that is famous for its casinos and gambling. To be honest I think this will also be a lottery. We must be patient there and calculate all the time in order to secure the title. Despite my 30 points lead in the standings we are far from there as double points will be awarded for both races. It will be exciting", Tom Coronel concludes.

The SUNRED team had something to celebrate this weekend however. With the races in Macau still to go the team lead by Joan Orus managed to clinch the Yokohama Independents Trophy for teams. Besides Coronel's car SUNRED enters a car in each WTCC race for the best performing SEAT Leon Eurocup driver from the previous round. Tim Coronel was one of the drivers to receive a WTCC prizedrive.

Tom Coronel expressed his feelings about his cooperation with SUNRED. "Joan Orus is driven man who is 100% dedicated to racing. He not only has a great technical knowledge, but he is also a great organizer and a good coach for his team. As a driver you can give it all, but you really need the right people to back you up. It is great that we won the title for the teams already, and I will do my utmost to make it complete with the drivers title!"

Tom Coronel is supported in the FIA WTCC by: SEAT Nederland, TW Steel big in oversized watches, McGregor fashion, Beelen Demolition works, Saarloos automotive and Olympia staffing.

-credit: tc

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Series WTCC