Coronel scores first podium for SEAT Sport SEAT Sport Holland's Tom Coronel claimed his first podium finish in a Toledo Cupra in difficult conditions at the Spa-Francorchamps circuit in Belgium. Race 1 was run under cloudy skies, while light...
Coronel scores first podium for SEAT Sport
SEAT Sport Holland's Tom Coronel claimed his first podium finish in a Toledo Cupra in difficult conditions at the Spa-Francorchamps circuit in Belgium. Race 1 was run under cloudy skies, while light rain was falling by the time Race 2 began which caused a dramatic change in track conditions. Several drivers slid off the circuit, while the safety car was deployed in both races.
After qualifying in 5th place, any thoughts of a podium finish for Jordi Gene ended almost within sight of the start-line, when his SEAT Sport Toledo Cupra went into the right-hand bend through Eau Rouge alongside the Alfa Romeo of Gabriele Tarquini. The pair touched, sending Gene into a dramatic slide that dropped the Spaniard to last place. Rickard Rydell, who'd started from 9th on the grid, was then forced to brake heavily to avoid his team-mate and so also dropped down the order.
The pair eventually finished outside the points. For much of the race, it seemed that Jason Plato would claim pole position for Race 2. The Englishman grabbed 8th place on lap 4 and held onto it until the very last corner when an aggressive overtaking move from Fabrizio Giovanardi saw the Alfa Romeo driver collide with Plato, who finished 10th as a result. One place behind Jason was Peter Terting, who'd struggled with his 35kgs weight penalty throughout the race.
Jason Plato (10th): "I couldn't read the pit board and no-one told me on the radio that I was on my last lap and that I only had to hold position to be on pole for race 2. If I'd have known that, I wouldn't have left even half a gap, but Giovanardi came down, fully locked up, and knocked me out of the way. I'd have done the same if I'd been in his place -- he had nothing to lose, really, but I'm really disappointed."
Peter Terting (11th): "I'm not happy with the result, if I'm honest. The start was okay, but I could really feel the weight; I lost so much going uphill. The problem was that I had an Alfa and a Honda behind me and so I didn't really stand a chance. Giovanardi hit me off the track when the yellow flags came out and there was no way to pass him again. I'll do my best in Race 2, but it won't be easy to get into the points."
Rickard Rydell (12th): "When Jordi had his accident, I tried to steer past him but I had to jump on the brakes to avoid hitting him. I must have lost six or seven places, because the top of the hill has to be the worst place on the track for something like that to happen, since there's a long straight immediately afterwards. It's a shame; the pace was clearly there and we'd found some more time after yesterday but that ended any chance I had."
Jordi Gene (13th): "What can I say? It's frustrating; I did everything right and I was on the inside, but Tarquini kept his line and I kept mine and we touched. I went off and he didn't, but it was definitely a racing accident; one of those things. I was in last place going into the chicane and so I started overtaking cars once the safety car went in, but I stopped when I came up behind Rickard and Peter. I still feel I could have been on the podium, but now it's a case of just trying to score some points."
The steady drizzle immediately before the start made tyre choice extremely difficult. Three of the SEAT Sport drivers opted for wet tyres, expecting the rain to get heavier, while Rickard Rydell took the gamble of slick tyres -- a gamble that very nearly paid off. Once again, the famous Eau Rouge corner played an important part in the race, with a number of drivers sliding off the track within seconds of the start.
All four SEAT Sport drivers escaped the mayhem unscathed, but Jordi Gene made a slight mistake and crashed into Rickard later on the opening lap, causing the Swedish driver to retire from a strong position. Jordi himself was then hit by Thomas Klenkes Ford Focus on lap 4 and so also didn't finish the race. With both Peter Terting and Jason Plato on wet tyres and the circuit now drying out with each lap, a good result was then all but impossible to achieve. Jason came into the pits for a tyre change on lap 3, but to no avail. The SEAT Sport UK driver, on his last scheduled outing for the WTCC team, finished 14th while a frustrated Terting was 10th.
There was however, a SEAT Toledo driver on the podium. After winning the Michelin Independents' Trophy category in Race 1, Tom Coronel brought his SEAT Sport Holland car home in 3rd place overall, rounding off a near-perfect weekend.
Peter Terting (10th): "The race was not so bad, but the problem was that I was on wet tyres and that was a mistake. I'm not at all happy -- it wasn't a good weekend for me, particularly after Mexico."
Jason Plato (14th): "Watching the TV replay, it looked like pinball! I had to stop after the huge shunt on the first lap, then I had to come into the pit for tyres and after that I just drove to the finish. I've really enjoyed my time with the WTCC team and I hope I've been an asset to them -- I was instrumental in that fantastic result at Silverstone and I'm pleased with what I've been able to do."
Rickard Rydell (DNF): "Even on the formation lap, everyone knew that slick tyres were the ones to be on and I knew that, starting from twelfth, I should easily be able to get up to seventh without much of a fight. I started really well and was fifth after the problems at Eau Rouge, with Peter in front of me, but then Jordi locked up and took me off. Because it's him, I accept that it was a mistake but it could have been a good race for me and a really good chance to score a lot of points."
Jordi Gene (DNF): "What a horrible weekend! We gambled on wet tyres and it wasn't the right decision. I was happy to escape the problems at Eau Rouge, but I locked my wheels and slid into Rickard. I was then just keeping my pace and suddenly I was involved in an accident. It was a very big impact and I couldn't breathe for a moment. Now we have to look ahead to Oschersleben and hope for some better luck."
Jaime Puig, SEAT Sport Director: "I'm very happy with Tom's result and the fact that a customer team of ours is doing so well - they are leading their championship now. The weather conditions at the start of the second race were very difficult to predict. Tom's result shows that dry tyres were clearly the ones to have, but Rickard was very unlucky. Peter's pace was also quite encouraging, despite the ballast, but I definitely think the weight issue needs to be looked at again."