First season podium for Tom Coronel Marrakech, May 2nd, 2010 - Tom Coronel has scored his first podium finish of the season in the FIA World Touring Car Championship. In the second race at the street circuit in Marrakesh, the Dutch driver ended...
First season podium for Tom Coronel
Marrakech, May 2nd, 2010 - Tom Coronel has scored his first podium finish of the season in the FIA World Touring Car Championship. In the second race at the street circuit in Marrakesh, the Dutch driver ended up third with his SEAT Leon TDI sporting the colours of McGregor and TW Steel. In the first race, he was classified fifth. "Coming here, I already reckoned that a podium finish would be possible. Often enough, the key to success is being at the right place at the right time, and that showed again today," said a delighted Coronel.
On Friday, Tom Coronel's day started with some TV work at the Djemaa-el-Fna- square in the historic city centre of Marrakesh. This huge square is the city's most important sightseeing point: market stands with a wide variety of products, snake charmers, people with trained monkeys... For the TV filming, Tom Coronel allowed for a cobra to be put around his neck and for a monkey to sit on his head, but the expression on his face left no doubt about the fact that he would rather be in his race car. "Oh well, this is all part of the job, and it is nice to see something of the city when you are in a foreign country. For most drivers, the weekend is just airport, circuit and hotel. For me, it is important to be able to see something of the environment, too," said Coronel.
Second-fastest time in test on Friday
The usual WTCC test session, a regular feature on circuits where the WTCC didn't race in the year before or after the cars have been on a long sea journey, like after the season opener at Curitiba in Brazil, took place on Friday afternoon. Drivers usually refer to the 30 minutes' test session as 'Free Practice Zero'. In this test, Tom Coronel was on top of the time sheets for a long time, but in the closing stages, he was outpaced by Hungarian SEAT driver Norbert Michelisz. With his lap time of 1:49.446 minutes, Coronel eventually was classified second, but he wasn't entirely satisfied. "We have a problem with the brakes. The brake fluid is heating up far too much and as a result, the brakes don't work properly", he reported. "Especially at this circuit with its long straights, brake problems are the last thing you want to have." On Friday evening, Tom Coronel enjoyed Morocco's culinary delights, together with his girlfriend. "We had a very nice place on the roof terrace of a rather trendy restaurant. Marrakesh is quite fashionable; there are many good restaurants here. And the weather is fantastic. In the evening, it is still nice and warm."
The mechanics of the SR Sport team, that takes care of the preparation of Coronel's SEAT Leon TDI, had made some changes on the car after the experience from Friday. In the free practice sessions on Saturday, the brake problems turned out to have been solved. In first free practice on Saturday morning, Tom Coronel was sixth-fastest. In second free practice around noon, he ended up fifth. "I have quite a good feeling. A top ten position in qualifying is certainly within reach," he said.
Qualifying was a chaotic affair. The sessions had to be red-flagged no less than four times and there was a considerable delay in between, too, as the fixation of the so-called kerbstones in the chicane had come loose and had to be re-installed. In the first heat, Tom Coronel was eighth-fastest, which allowed him to take part in the decisive second heat of 15 minutes for the ten fastest drivers. In that session, he set a lap time of 1:47.044 minutes, which put him seventh on the starting grid. "It wasn't perfect, because I still lost too much time, especially in the second chicane, but at least I am not very far off," he said. Still, he wanted a different set- up of the suspension for race day. "Hopefully, that will make the car a little bit more stable on the track."
Fastest time in warm-up, podium finish in race 2
The changes turned out to have the desired effect, because in warm-up on Sunday morning, Coronel set the fastest lap time without any problems, 0.9 seconds faster than his qualifying lap. "The car is feeling much better now," he said. For Coronel, the first race went quite well as he crossed the finish line in fifth. The race ended behind the safety car after it took very long to recover a car that was stuck on the track. "That was a pity, because I saw that Fredy Barth, who was right in front of me, had all kinds of problems keeping his car on the track, and I had more or less expected to get him", said Coronel after the race. "But this result is quite good, too, especially as I can now start fourth in the second race."
At the start of the second race, Hungarian Michelisz got stuck right in front of Coronel, but the latter managed to steer clear of Michelisz' SEAT and moved up into third place. A little bit further down the field, it went wrong as several cars collided. That caused the first safety car phase of the race, which lasted five laps. Racing resumed on lap six, but after only half a lap, it was mayhem again as two other drivers collided. That caused the second safety car period and once the track was clear again, there was only one lap remaining. Coronel crossed the finish line in third place as the best SEAT driver. "Remaining concentrated during the long safety car interventions was difficult, but I am pleased with this result," he said. "My understanding of the car is getting better and better, which makes me optimistic for the races to come."
Next races: Monza (I), May 23rd
-source: Tom Coronel