A deserved eighth place for Tom Coronel in Japanese FIA WTCC round
Motegi – For the 17th and 18th race of its season, the FIA World Touring Car Championship (FIA WTCC) headed to the Twin Ring Motegi in Japan. This 4.800 kilometres long race track, built by Honda, served as the venue for the ninth race weekend of the WTCC season. For Tom Coronel with his DHL ROAL Motorsport Chevrolet Cruze, it was familiar territory. During his spell in Japan, he drove here frequently and enjoyed many successful races in various championships. He is still very well-known and popular in Japan.
For Coronel, the WTCC weekend went off to a good start with the fifth-fastest time in free practice. Due to oversteer in qualifying, the Dutchman spent a lot of time in the pits, which eventually prevented him from making a third attempt to post a fast lap time in that session. Thus, he was unable to improve his lap time and he ended up 15th on the starting grid. After a good start, Tom Coronel was involved in a battle with Tiago Monteiro and Rob Huff for a top ten position. Coronel had difficulties holding on to his position and came off the track after one quarter in the race due to brake problems. Quick action in the gravel trap allowed him to reduce the speed and thus limit the damage.
Between the race, the problems were solved and the Dutch driver was confident for the second race in his beloved Japan. In spite of a poor start, this race went better and the Dutchman converted his 13th starting grid position into an eighth-place finish. After the race, he even moved up to seventh following a 30 seconds' time penalty for Gabriele Tarquini, who finished ahead of him. This brings his total to 39 points. The ROAL Motorsport team, for which Tom Coronel is racing, is in the lead of the Yokohama Teams' Trophy standings.
"Once again, it was absolutely crazy here in Japan," Tom Coronel starts his report. "It always remains special to see how many fans I still have here. That means signing autographs, having photographs taken, shaking hands, giving interviews and so on. I am still impressed. In terms of results, it was an up-and-down affair this time. We were on the pace in free practice, as my fifth-fastest time reflects, but in qualifying, I didn't have enough time. On the second run, I made a mistake myself, after which the time wasn't good and we needed more time in the pits. As a result, I wasn't able to start a third run and I also missed out on the top 12 qualifying. So, I was 15th on the grid and hoped for the best.
Due to issues for other drivers, I started from 13th place and had a relatively good start. I soon felt that there were problems with the brakes. They got way too hot. Once, the pedal even was all the way down on the floor and the car didn't slow down at all. To prevent hitting the tyre stacks with the front of the car, I spun the car in the gravel trap and got some damage to the rear. In the second race, I had a very poor start, but then, I was still able to overtake some drivers. Once again, the brakes degraded really quickly. As a result, I started driving alongside others, rather than staying behind them, to get as much cooling air as possible. Eventually, I was classified seventh and that is a good result, given the situation. I was on the pace in the second race, but I had to look after my brakes," Coronel concluded.
Result race 1 Motegi
1. José Maria López (Citroën C-Elysée) 13 laps in 25:46.796; 2. Norbert Michelisz +3.081; 3. Gabriele Tarquini +4.314 (both Honda Civic WTCC); 4. Ma Qing Hua +10.421; 5. Yvan Muller + 11.812 and 6. Sébastien Loeb op 12.108 (all Citroën C-Elysée). Retired: Tom Coronel (ROAL Motorsport Chevrolet RML Cruze TC1).
Result race 2
1. Tiago Monteiro (Honda Civic WTCC) 13 laps ; 2. Hugo Valente +9.222 (Chevrolet RML Cruze TC1); 3. Rob Huff +10.938 (Lada Vesta); 4. Sébastien Loeb +11.703 (Citroën C-Elysée); 5. Ma Qing Hua +12.894 (Citroën C-Elysée) and 7. Tom Coronel, (ROAL Motorsport-Chevrolet-RML Cruze TC1) +17.474.
FIA WTCC standings after 18 of 24 races
1. José Maria López 351 points; 2. Yvan Muller 277; 3. Sébastien Loeb 253; 4. Ma Qing Hua 167; 5. Norbert Michelisz 164 and 12. Tom Coronel 37.