The Dutchman was on the pace from the very beginning and featured in the top six throughout the weekend.
Salzburg – Tom Coronel is feeling very comfortable with the ROAL Motorsport Chevrolet Cruze. After an unfortunate start into the season, the 42-year old Dutch driver is now in contention for podium results in the FIA World Touring Car Championship (WTCC). Following the cancellation of one of the two races at Slovakia Ring, the ultra-fast Salzburgring in Austria served as the venue for the eighth and ninth round of the season. The Dutchman was on the pace from the very beginning and featured in the top six throughout the weekend. Thus, he also made it into the third qualifying heat, meaning that he scored two additional world championship points.
Initially, Tom Coronel was to start fourth on the grid for the first race, but because Morbidelli was dropped five grid positions for improving his lap time under yellow, Coronel started third. In this race, he battled with the usually faster Citroën C-Elysée WTCC cars for most of the time and eventually only had to allow Yvan Muller in front of him. A great second place finish was also the first podium result for the Dutchman this season. The second race got off to a turbulent start, during which Tom Coronel quickly made up two places and was sixth when the race was interrupted following accidents by various drivers.After the restart, the ROAL Motorsport driver was sixth, but benefited as a Honda dropped back and was in fifth place at the halfway point. At that time, he was in a close battle with fellow Chevrolet driver Gianni Morbidelli. The safety car was deployed for a second time, now because of gravel on the track. In the remaining race laps, Tom Coronel managed to maintain his position with hard work and finished fifth. In the world championship standings, he is currently seventh with a total of 58 points.
At the end of the event, Tom Coronel said: "I am getting used to the car more and more. Now, I am regularly in the top five or six and I have a good feeling. This is a fast track and it was clear to me that I could keep up with the others. Especially when you have a good slipstream, you can make up several tenths of a second here. In the second heat, I even was on top of the time sheets until two minutes before the end. We now have a good set-up for the car, which also explains why I was able to make it into Q3 for the first time. In hindsight, I perhaps should have pushed a little but more, but I was also quite happy with the result.
We have worked hard on the starts in recent weeks and I had a good getaway in the first race, but I was slightly surprised when Citroën driver Loeb braked early. As a result, we tangled, but we both managed to continue. After that, I was second behind Muller. A little bit later, 'Pechito' (J.M. Lopez – ed.) overtook me at high speed, but he missed his braking point on lap eight, which gave me back my second place. After that, I had a huge fight in which I managed to defend my position. This second result was just great and it also shows that we really are working into the right way. Moreover, the car remains really consistent.
The start of the second race went very well, too. I moved up from eighth to fifth. Lopez soon overtook me. He really was way too fast. I tried to stay in his slipstream, but I had no chance. The race was re-started after a big crash, in which I fortunately was not involved. Later in the race, I also overtook Bennani and had a hard fight with Morbidelli. Once again, I managed to finish as the best-placed Chevrolet. I reckon that we are now at 95 percent. There is still room for improvement, which is good, because we are racing at Spa-Francorchamps after Moscow. That is my home circuit and I want to do well there!"
Result race 1: 1. Yvan Muller (Citroën Racing C-Elysee) 15 laps in 20:56.737; 2.Tom Coronel (ROAL Motorsport Chevrolet Cruze) +3.840; 3. José Maria Lopez +4.276; 4. Sebastien Loeb +5.427 (both Citroën C-Elysee WTCC); 5. Tiago Monteiro (Honda Civic WTCC) +12.403 and 6. Tom Chilton (Roal Motorsport Chevrolet Cruze) +12.945.
Result race 2: 1. José Maria Lopez (Citroën Racing C-Elysee) 17 laps; 2 Gabriele Tarquini +1.683; 3. Tiago Monteiro +2.554; 4. Norbert Michelisz +3.651 (all Honda Civic WTCC); 5.Tom Coronel (ROAL Motorsport Chevrolet Cruze) +3.908 and 6. Gianni Morbidelli (Chevrolet Cruze) +4.466.
Standings after 9 rounds: 1. José Maria Lopez 179 points; 2. Yvan Muller 138; 3. Sébastien Loeb 134; 4. Tiago Monteiro 96 and 7. Tom Coronel 58.