Tom Coronel impresses at Macau. SEAT Team Holland coureur Tom Coronel ended his season in the FIA World Touringcar Championship with a place on the podium. Coronel started the first race of the day in sixth place and eventually ended up in 7th...
Tom Coronel impresses at Macau.
SEAT Team Holland coureur Tom Coronel ended his season in the FIA World Touringcar Championship with a place on the podium. Coronel started the first race of the day in sixth place and eventually ended up in 7th at the finish. This result brought him on the front row of the second race. After a good start and an eventful race Tom brought home his GR Asia prepared SEAT Leon in third place.
Final championship rounds are there to be exciting. Before the action started at Macau the battle for the crown was very wide open. At least for the drivers and manufacturers title it was, as SEAT Team Holland, GR Asia and Tom Coronel already clinched the Yokohama Independents Trophy for privateer teams and drivers at Valencia a month ago. There were many scenarios for the conclusion of the 2006 championship outcome, but after two eventful races - what else do you expect at Macau - the title again went to Andy Priaulx and BMW.
Tom Coronel showed ever improving performances this weekend. After taking sixth in qualifying, Tom was quickest in the warm up sessions and took a seventh and third place in the two races. After rounding off the season with some impressive performances and the Independents title Tom now has to be patient for his racing plans for 2007 to enrol. Much of it is now out of his control, which is more or less a good sign. "For sure I will be in the WTCC next year, but behind the scenes there are a lot of negotiations going on whether or not SEAT Sport will have a car for me or whether we will continue with GR Asia. I know that both options will bring me a successful car, so I am not too worried about the small amount of uncertainty", Tom said.
From his vast experience in the streets of Macau Tom knew that it would be far from easy this weekend. "On my first laps in free practice the car was dancing like a kangaroo. We decided to make a radical change on shock absorbers, springs and rollbar to improve the handling of the car. After that we also changed the engine. All this made the car a lot better and we were ready for qualifying. In the end it was just like a big tombola. Fortunately I was one of the first out on the track, so I could set a time fairly easy. After that the track was blocked by a spun car. When the session was restarted I was up there again, which proved to be the right decision. It started to rain, so there were no improvements. I was in sixth place so I was satisfied with it.
During the warm-up I set the fastest time, which again assured us that we had a good package. After the start of the first race I was a bit trapped behind two cars and I had to look for a free line. I created some more problems when I shifted down two gears in stead of one, causing me to nearly stop in the corner. Perhaps it saved me from crashing as ahead of me there was already a pile up of cars. However I found a way passed the carnage and continued the race. Now I could really start to push and I was able to do the same laptimes as the top three cars. However I did not gain any positions with it so I finished in seventh place. I was not that bad as it put me on the front row for the second race. From that place I could drive on a straight line to the first corner. I could see Jörg Müller's BMW getting along side me. I was able to keep up with him, but he also had the Alfa of Farfus in his slipstream. He hit me in the next righthander. After touching the guardrail my wheels were out of line and I lost some places. I checked the car, but it was still going well which was more than could be said from the people behind me. I saw quite a big mess in my mirrors but I could go on to queue up behind the safety car. At that time I was fourth behind two works SEATs and Jörg Müller. After Peter Terting dropped back I moved into third. That was all I could do as the car definitely lacked some speed after hitting Farfus and the wall. Afterwards Paul Ridgway, my team manager at GR Asia was quite surprised I was able to make it to the finish as both front tires were pointing in a different direction. So all in all it was an eventful but most of all successful weekend", Tom Coronel said.
Xeno Grimmelt, managing director of SEAT-importer Pon Car in the Netherlands: "The battle in the FIA WTCC was quite exciting this year. Besides the SEAT Sports factory team there were a lot of other competitive cars and drivers. Each race there were other favorites so the battle for the title was wide open until the very end of the season. Of course our eyes were set on the blue and yellow SEATs of the works team and our newly crowned Independents World Champion Tom Coronel in the orange Leon. In practice we were always up there with Yvan Muller, Tom and Gabriele Tarquini, which makes it a fascinating battle. Especially when you consider that this is a narrow street circuit with no margin for errors. The full SEAT crew worked hard to win the overall title, but we lost it in the end in the final race. A big compliment for Tom Coronel who scored well in both races. SEAT Sport and Seat Team Holland can both look back on a successful and exciting season in the FIA WTCC 2006 and for sure we will be back in 2007".
For the 2007 season Seat importer Pon Car intends to continue its motorsports efforts both on a national and on an international level. Recently it was decided that the SEAT Cupra Cup will continue for another year. This national class will have races on all the A class events in the Netherlands. Furthermore negotiations are going on to see if Tom Coronel can be included in the SEAT Sport works team for next year. Xeno Grimmelt is working hard to realize this: "After Tom clinched the title at Valencia we spoke with the Spanish team managers. Of course Tom did a very good job ever the last few years so the cards should be in our favour. However it is not our decision and SEAT Sports might have other factors to take into consideration, so for now we have to be patient".