Tom Coronel leads Formula Nippon championship The fifth round of the Formula Nippon championship was heald at Suzuka. Tom Coronel ended the partly wet practice sessions in sixth place. Weather improvements and some dramatic changes to the car...
Tom Coronel leads Formula Nippon championship
The fifth round of the Formula Nippon championship was heald at Suzuka. Tom Coronel ended the partly wet practice sessions in sixth place. Weather improvements and some dramatic changes to the car brought him second place in the race. Partly due to Motoyama's failure to finish the Dutchman is now sharing the lead of the championship with the Japanese driver. Coronel, who is sponsored this year by Marlboro, Bakkerij Bart, McGregor, Bridgestone, Mobil 1 en Honda is focussing fully on Formula Nippon now and leaves eventual Formula 1 offers for his representatives
Coronel started the weekend with an experimental setup. In the first qualifying session the engineers mounted three in stead of the regular two shockabsorbers. "This proved to be unsuccesful. I did not come any further than sixth place, and that is not enough for me. As a consequence we made a big change to the setup in order to get more grip and thus quicker laptimes. Unfortunately that did not work out as it was raining in the second session and nobody was able to improve. The only advantage was that the others used a lot of rubber and I still had a fresh set at my disposal. Together with my engineer I checked everything through and through after practice. We looked at all options and our conclusion was to make another dramatic change to the setup. We really changed everything again. The rideheight, wing settings, the chassis, really everything. It proved to work in the warm up as we were 1,8 sec. quicker than anybody else. Everybody thought I was driving with empty tanks, but I knew better than that. The race was started under dry conditions and it all went super for me. Before the first turn I had already gained a place and it would not be the last move. One corner later I moved up another two places so I was in third behind Motoyama and Kurosawa. The Japanese couple spinned ahead of me in the chicane and blocked my way. My teammate Mitsusada and Masami Kageyama made the most of it and took first and second place. Fortunately I was able to rejoin the race shortly afterwards and it did not take too long before I was behind my teammate again. He let only me through at my third attempt. Now I was in secongd place and managed to decrease the gap to Kageyama from 5 to 0,6 seconds. I kept on pushing to get closer to him and in the one but last round I tried a bit too hard as I spun. On full power I managed to put the car in the right direction and continued. With only five corners to go the car suddenly ceased. In a fraction of a second I tried to reset all switches in the cockpit and suddenly the engine came alive again. In fifth gear I drove it to the finish and, still in second place." Coronel concluded after a hectic race. The PIAA Nakajima driver also set the fastest lap of the race, which did not really come as a surprise for the Dutchman. "After being blocked in the incident between Motoyama and Kurosawa I really went for it. It more like doing qualifying laps for the rest of the race."
Results fifth race Formula Nippon: 1. Masami Kageyama 35 laps 1.06.08.192; 2. Tom Coronel 1.06.29.050; 3. Takuya Kurosawa 1.06.49.963; 4. Tetsuya Tanaka 1.06.51.070; 5.Hidetoshi Mitsusada 1.06.55.221 and 6. Hideki Noda 1.07.01.065.
Standings Formula Nippon championship after 5 races: 1. Coronel and Motoyama 26 points; 3. H. Mitsusada 16; 4. Dumbreck 12; 5. Firman 10 and 6. M. Krumm and T. Kurosawa 6 points.