Tom Coronel scores points in home race Monza, June 20th, 2010 - With his ninth place in the first race and tenth place in the second race, SEAT driver Tom Coronel scored points in both heats at Zolder in Belgium. Nevertheless, for Coronel, the...
Tom Coronel scores points in home race
Monza, June 20th, 2010 - With his ninth place in the first race and tenth place in the second race, SEAT driver Tom Coronel scored points in both heats at Zolder in Belgium. Nevertheless, for Coronel, the first appearance of the FIA World Touring Car Championship at the former Grand Prix circuit in Belgium didn't quite bring what he had expected. That was mainly caused by changeable weather conditions in qualifying, after which the Dutch driver wasn't able to shine in the races with his SEAT in the colours of McGregor and TW Steel.
"Basically, it doesn't really make a big difference where we race, but Zolder somehow is familiar," says Coronel. "I have been racing here since my very first season in motorsport, I know every inch of the circuit in and out and another nice aspect is that we have many Dutch fans coming here. We had a lot of SEAT dealers from The Netherlands, but also numerous journalists, commercial partners and guests of our sponsors, including TW Steel." Coronel is convinced that there is no particular advantage in terms of track knowledge: "At world championship level, the drivers are so professional that they only need a couple of laps and then they know the track, too. The only time when you can have a slight advantage is when conditions are changing, for instance when rain sets in."
On Friday, drivers had the first chance to familiarise themselves with the circuit in a 30 minutes' test session. Coronel had a good start into the weekend with the fifth fastest time, making him the best-placed SEAT driver. He completed a total of 14 laps and together with the technicians of his team SR-Sport, he worked on the right set-up for qualifying and the race. On Saturday morning, first free practice was held on a track that was wet after a downpour in the early morning hours. During the session, the racing line dried out more and more and lap times gradually became faster. That became apparent in the results, the final laps being the fastest for almost all drivers. That was also the case for Tom Coronel, who was still allowed to complete his final lap after the chequered flag was out and eventually ended up second.
A wrong gamble with rain in qualifying In second free practice, held on an entirely dry track, Coronel only completed eight laps, also to save the tyres with an eye on qualifying. Thus, he was classified eleventh. In qualifying, the only Dutch driver in the WTCC field ranked among the first ten and thus seemed set to make it into the second qualifying heat, especially after a slight drizzle set in during the 20 minutes' first session. "We assumed that we were safe and nobody would improve his time, so we decided not to go out for another attempt anymore and save tyres for the second qualifying heat", said Coronel. That turned out to be wrong, because rain didn't become much heavier and in the closing stages, a few drivers still became faster, so that Coronel eventually ended up eleventh, failing to make it into the second qualifying heat for the ten fastest drivers. "Too bad. That clearly was a wrong gamble," said Coronel.
In warm-up on Sunday morning, Coronel concentrated on practicing starts. "With our SEAT Leon TDI, that is mainly a matter of experience and I haven't made so many starts with this car yet," he said. "Now, I had the opportunity to do so. Lap times were less significant, the set-up was just right."
A good start and an exciting battle in race 1, catching up in race 2 During the first race, Tom Coronel had an excellent start that allowed him to move up into eighth place right away. During the race, he lost one place to Andy Priaulx. "On the fourth lap, I noticed already that I would be having some problems with the brakes, because they locked up pretty quickly," Coronel said afterwards. "That was the case indeed and that was also the reason that I wasn't able to keep Priaulx behind me." On the other hand, Coronel succeeded in defending his ninth place against a charging Augusto Farfus. "That was an exciting battle, quite some hard work," said Coronel, who crossed the finish line in ninth place. "Too bad that I wasn't one place further up, because that would have put me on pole for the second race, but that is the way it is," he reckoned.
In the second race, Coronel had problems getting away at the standing start. "That is still my lack of experience while starting with the diesel car, which really is much more complicated than with the petrol car in the past", said Coronel. He dropped well down the order, but was able to make up a couple of places again during the race, eventually finishing tenth. "Well, at least I scored some points, but after things didn't go as planned in qualifying, problems continued throughout the weekend. This event didn't quite bring what I had expected. Sometimes, that happens. Hopefully, it will be better again next race," says Coronel.
-source: tom coronel PR