Dutch driver upset about driving conduct by Chinese Citroën driver Ma
Vila Real, July 12, 2015 – The FIA World Touring Car Championship headed to Portugal for its final European event of the season. Here, the series had its first experience of the 4.6 kilometres long and challenging Circuito de Vila Real. For Tom Coronel with the ROAL Motorsport Chevrolet Cruze, this type of circuits provides some opportunities for good results, especially when starting somewhere near the front of the grid. After all, these often narrow tracks usually offer little opportunities for overtaking and top speed isn't playing such a major role.
In first qualifying, the Dutch driver mainly focussed on the reversed grid for the second race. To be in front there, he needed a ninth or tenth time in qualifying. At the time Tom wanted to achieve this, Chinese Citroën factory driver Ma Qing Hua obstructed him in the chicane and thus ruined Coronel's fast lap. As a result, the Dutchman didn't get any better results than a pair of 15th places on the grid for the two races. Coronel, who intended to score valuable world championship points there, was understandably upset.
Tom Coronel best-placed Dutchman in FIA WTCC
The first race provided little action and saw Coronel finish in twelfth place. In the second race, there was an accident right after the start, followed by a five laps' safety car intervention. Later in the race, several drivers collided and a top ten result was within reach for Tom Coronel. After the heavy crash by Dutch Lada driver Nick Catsburg, red flags were out to put an early end to the race. In such a situation, the order from the previous lap counts as the result, so that Tom Coronel was classified eleventh in the second race at the street circuit. In the FIA WTCC drivers' standings, Tom Coronel is currently twelfth with a total of 33 points.
"So, now I also have a penalty of 1,000 Euros to deal with," a critical Tom Coronel commented after the races and a visit to the stewards of the meeting. He was given the fine for a move that dominated his race weekend. "I was on the pace all the time. After the test at Paul Ricard, I had a better feeling with the car and that showed in the free practice sessions. In general, street circuits always suit me and this circuit in particular. What a great track it is! I really felt well here and I knew that I could score points."
"After a fourth and a sixth place in my first attempt and a red flag in the second one, it was all about my third run in qualifying. Things went perfectly and I was somewhere around eighth place. I had my headlights turned on and I even flashed to make the drivers in front of me aware that I was on my flying lap. Officially, you have to move over in such a case to make way for the faster driver. But just before the chicane, I got stuck behind Ma with the Citroën. He was on his cooling down lap and would have had to make way for faster drivers coming up from behind. He could have done so, but he didn't and I lost valuable tenths of a second in the chicane and dropped to 15th place on the grid as a result. He really ruined my lap and I duly told him so afterwards. Strangely enough, I was penalised for it and he wasn't. And in hindsight, you see where you can end up when starting from pole position: he has won that race. But, anyway, it is history now. Of course, I am disappointed, because I could have scored much more."
"I had a good start in both races, I got into my flow straight away, but overtaking is very difficult here. Accordingly, twelfth place was all I could do in race 1. After the start in race two, it was difficult, because my Cruze was hit quite hard by the debris from the collision between Jaap van Lagen and Monteiro. My door was even open for a while, but it closed again and I saw that the car was damaged. Fortunately, I still felt that I could drive. Because the race was stopped early with the red flag, I just missed out on world championship points. I did score quite well for the privateers' championship, in which I am currently fifth. Now, the European part of the season is over. Next time, we are racing in Japan, my second home country. Just like here, I am expecting a lot of people and fans there. And, of course, we will aim at a good result," Tom Coronel concludes.
Result Race 1: 1. José María López 13 laps 26:23.906; 2. Sébastien Loeb (both Citroën C-Elysée) +1.519; 3. Norbert Michelisz +5.391; 4. Gabriele Tarquini +5.711; 5. Tiago Monteiro (all Honda Civic WTCC) +9.402 and 12. Tom Coronel (ROAL Motorsport Chevrolet RML Cruze TC1) +29.853.
Result Race 2: 1. Ma Qing Hua 11 laps, 2. Yvan Muller (both Citroën C-Elysée WTCC) +5.573. 3. Gabriele Tarquini +10.812; 4. Norbert Michelisz (both Honda Civic WTCC) +11.982; 5. José María López (Citroën C-Elysée WTCC) +12.423; 6. Nicky Catsburg (Lada Vesta) +15,177 and 11. Tom Coronel, (ROAL Motorsport-Chevrolet-RML Cruze TC1) +18.055.
FIA WTCC standings after 16 of 24 races: 1. José María López 322 points; 2. Yvan Muller 267; 3. Sébastien Loeb 230; 4. Ma Qing Hua 146; 5. Norbert Michelisz 141 and 12. Tom Coronel 33.