SEAT driver Tom Coronel wins his first FIA WTCC race in Japan In his long lasting race career Tom Coronel already won a lot of races in Japan. Today he added another important victory in the land of the rising sun. After a disappointing 17th...
SEAT driver Tom Coronel wins his first FIA WTCC race in Japan
In his long lasting race career Tom Coronel already won a lot of races in Japan. Today he added another important victory in the land of the rising sun. After a disappointing 17th place in qualifying for the penultimate round of the FIA WTCC at Okayama, the SEAT Team Holland driver finished in eighth place in race one. This meant that he could start from pole position in the second race. A fortunate gamble in his tyre choice was vital for his first victory for the Dutch driver in his SunRed prepared SEAT Leon TFSi. The best result ever in the championship and, on top of that, in the country where he had his biggest successes: Japan. Coronel added 11 championship points to his tally and is now in 13th place in the championship standings. For SEAT is was a perfect weekend as the manufacturer clinched the manufacturers title with the victories of SEAT Sport driver Rickard Rydell in race one and Tom Coronel in the second race. Furthermore the only drivers that still have a mathematical chance of taking the drivers crown are SEAT Sport employees Yvan Muller and Gabriele Tarquini.
"We had a very special couple of days here", Tom Coronel said afterwards. I did not tell many people about this trip, but we decided to go to Japan already on Wednesday. I visited a number of people and teams that I worked with in the past. The reactions I got were great and there was nothing different with the reception by the fans at the track. Really the only thing that has changed at the track was the name as it is now Okayama and it used to be TI Aida. The fans were there as if I had never been away. Always present with model cars and pictures from the days that I raced there. Of course I signed the items with pleasure. For me it was great to see that so many people still remember me and that you are still admired after all those years. However the main reason that we were here was to race. I was pleasantly surprised with the first laps here. The car felt good and we were quickly in the right swing of things. In the second free practice session we even were second quickest on new tyres. On paper it was a good perspective for qualifying in which I took 17th place. Unbelievable, because it was a perfect lap, but I was still 1.1 second short of the fastest time. I really don't know where I could gain more time. After a wet warm up session I started to feel better. I was third for much of the session and in the end I was 5th quickest. The start of the first race was equally good. It was a bit less wet than in the warm up and after I passed Jordi Gene I was in tenth, eleventh and twelfth place. That was to change in the final lap. Some people in front of me went off and I won an extra place by overtaking d'Aste in the final corner. At that moment I did not know in what position I was, so you can imagine I was pleasantly surprised to hear that I was in eighth place. That was the best possible place for me as this meant pole position for race two. Between the races I kept on focusing on the weather and as the rain did not really start to come down I decided to go for slicks, but when I drove to the grid the car started to break out on the rear. That's why I wanted the wet weather tyres on the rear and I left the slicks at the front. Others like Monteiro were on full wets, while Farfus was on slicks. In the beginning it was hard, but on the fifth lap I took the lead and started to build up an advantage. Towards the end Farfus closed in on me dramatically. We had a great fight, especially on the last two laps. I managed to keep him behind me and win the race. It is still somewhat unreal, but I can tell you I am mega happy and to me it means even more that it all happened in Japan. A country that already brought me a lot of successes in the past. Really super!"
Tom Coronel is supported in the FIA WTCC by: SEAT-importer Pon Car, Club SEAT, McGregor, ATP Advanced Travel Partner, TW Steel watches, Auto Trader, Saarloos Automotive Equipment, Olympia staffing, VVS insurances, Wielengids. nl, and Plasmadiscounter.nl.