Missing out on the test day affected Coronel
Nürburg – In eighth place, Tom Coronel was the best-placed Chevrolet driver in the second race of the FIA World Touring Car Championship (WTCC) on the Nordschleife. "I have to admit that I had expected more," the driver of the DHL-yellow Cruze run by Italian team, ROAL Motorsport, commented. "In wet conditions, we were on the pace in practice, but in the dry, the races didn't bring the results we had hoped for."
In the first race, Coronel was already hit by an opponent in the opening stages, after which he turned
into the pits to avoid any further damage to the car with an eye on race two, for which he was in a good position in second place on the grid. In spite of an excellent start into the second race, Coronel visibly lacked speed compared to the opposition. As a result, he only crossed the finish line in eighth place.
When the announcement was made halfway through last year that the WTCC would race on the Nordschleife of the Nürburgring this year, Tom Coronel was really excited straight away: "Awesome, the world's most beautiful circuit, I am already looking forward to it." Indeed, the races on the support bill of the 24-hour race, one of Europe's biggest motorsport events with some 200,000 spectators, certainly turned out to be a spectacular new highlight on the WTCC calendar. From that perspective, the objective of WTCC promoter Eurosport Events certainly was achieved.
Television footage of the cars on the 25 kilometres long combination of the Grand Prix circuit and the Nordschleife in the rolling hills of the Eifel was breath-taking. For Tom Coronel, however, preparation had been far from ideal. Other than most of the drivers, he hadn't been able to take part in the official WTCC test day on the Nordschleife at the end of April following the damage he had incurred during the race weekend at Marrakech. "The disadvantage because of that was bigger than we had expected, because we were really playing catch-up in terms of set-up throughout the weekend," Coronel explained. "The test on Thursday was held in the dry.
For first free practice on Friday, the track was wet and we were doing pretty well as we were somewhere between fourth and sixth place all the time. In second free practice, however, when it was dry again, things didn't go at all." Another disadvantage was that he would have to start from the back of the grid for race one following an engine change in his Chevrolet. "As ever so often, we decided to concentrate on the second race," the driver said. "In qualifying, I did three runs and I ended up ninth, a result that made me quite happy, because it put me onto the front row of the grid for the second race."
Coronel continued: "In the first race, I had a poor start and in the first corner, I got hit by another driver. The impact wasn't heavy, but I still decided to turn into the pits to avoid any unnecessary risks, so that I would at least be able to compete in race two. In that race, I had a good start, but the Citroëns and the works-Hondas were visibly faster. On the first lap, I headed out onto the Nordschleife in fourth place and I managed to hold on to my position for a while, but on the long straight at the end of the lap, the drivers in the works cars overtook me one after another without any problems. There was just nothing I could do. In any case, I still was the best-placed Chevrolet driver in eighth position.
That made me slightly happy, but all in all, I have to say that I had expected more from this weekend." For Coronel, the event at the Nürburgring isn't over yet, as he is also taking part in the 24-hour race, driving a Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3 for the German Zakspeed team. The next WTCC event takes place at Moscow Raceway in three weeks' time. "There, we did well last year and I am hoping for another good result this year. Characteristics of the Nordschleife weren't ideal for our car, but I expect things to go better in Russia."
Result Race 1
1.José Maria López 3 laps in 26:02,550; 2. Sébastien Loeb, +4.930; 3. Yvan Muller (all Citroën C-Elysée WTCC), +8.759; 4. Norbert Michelisz (Honda Civic WTCC), +9.918; 5. Qing Hua Ma (Citroën C-Elysée WTCC), +10.516; 6. Gabriele Tarquini (Honda Civic WTCC), +10.789; retired: Tom Coronel (ROAL Motorsport-Chevrolet-RML Cruze TC1).
Result Race 2
1.Yvan Muller 3 laps in 26:02,149; 2. José María López (both Citroën C-Elysée WTCC) +0.173; 3. Tiago Monteiro, +0,539; 4. Gabriele Tarquini (both Honda Civic WTCC), +0.694, 5. Sébastien Loeb, +3.402; 6. Mehdi Bennani (both Citroën C-Elysée WTCC), +4.062 and 8. Tom Coronel (ROAL Motorsport-Chevrolet-RML Cruze TC1), +8.865.