Dutch driver Tom Coronel has confirmed he will again compete in the FIA World Touring Car Championship with ROAL Motorsport.
Coronel, 43, has been part of every WTCC season since the series' inception in 2005 and, despite off-season doubts over his continuation in the series, the Dutchman will carry on.
In what will be his sixth year with ROAL, Coronel will again be racing a Chevrolet Cruze in the yellow colours of DHL.
The car is currently being prepared to the latest spec for the start of the season that commences at Circuit Paul Ricard during the first weekend of April.
“Every year it seems to be later and harder to make a deal," a relieved Coronel told Motorsport.com. "But the most important thing is that I’m competing again!
“This is what I want to do. It was a tough winter but we had to make a decision at some point. The engines had to be built, the car had to be prepared. But the deal is done, that’s the most important part.”
Staying at ROAL
“There were some other options but I’ve been working with ROAL for five years now," Coronel continued.
"As long as I am happy and they compete in this championship, I won’t leave. And I’m really happy with the team.
“I feel privileged, really! The hard work has paid off. DHL wanted to continue and I have some new partners, too. But it’s about the whole package, everything has to be done. That caused me a lot of stress.
"I’m a privateer who has to take care of everything on his own, I don’t have a dad with a lot of money. It’s not easy to find more than 1 million euro. But I did it again and that makes me really happy.”
The lateness of the deal has forced Coronel to miss the first pre-season test, but the Dutchman said that was of little concern.
“I’m not a magician, I can’t change it,” he said. “We’ve made the deal really late, it couldn’t be earlier. Everybody has to agree with it before you can drive. And it’s an advantage that I already know the circuits and the car, so I’ll be alright.”
New regulations better for privateers
The 2016 season has brought upon changes to the weight ballast regulations, with the handicaps now awarded on a round-by-round basis and going up to a maximum of 80kg.
"It was 60 kilograms in the past, determined after every three events,” Coronel reminded. “So now, it is done quicker, which certainly enhances our chances as privateer drivers.
"The reversed grid remains in place as well, but now for the first race. That is something that is making me happy as well.
"In qualifying, we always aimed at a position somewhere around ninth or tenth place to claim a grid position on the front row for the second race.
"But then you always had to survive the first race to be able to take part in the second race without any damage. Now, that has changed, too and that certainly is giving us more chances to score points.”