Strong comeback for BMW driver Tom Coronel in USA debut races at Sonoma

Tom Coronel, BMW 320 TC, ROAL Motorsport
Tom Coronel, BMW 320 TC, ROAL Motorsport

Photo by: Brad Fox

Sonoma, September 23rd, 2012 – The circuit of Sonoma in California was the venue for the first encounter of the FIA World Touring Car Championship (WTCC) after the summer break. The over four km long undulating race track near San Francisco hosted the category for the first time. For Tom Coronel, the first kilometres at the circuit didn’t quite go as planned. With six minutes remaining in qualifying, a red-flag forced him to abort his sequence of laps. This also had its effects on the tyre choice and he had only little time left to improve his lap times. On the decisive lap, the 40-year old Dutch driver spun with his ROAL Motorsport BMW 320 TC, which explained his 20th qualifying time. A major disappointment, but also an extra boost for the Dutchman to make the best out of it. On the opening lap of the first race, various drivers had troubles and Coronel moved up into eleventh place. Retirements of other drivers and overtaking manoeuvres by himself allowed Coronel to move up to eighth in the final classification of the first race. Coronel also started 20th for the second race. Once again, he quickly moved up through the ranks and was already tenth after the opening lap. The race was also interrupted by a safety car intervention, but this didn’t stop Coronel’s progress, which saw him end up in fifth place. His results were promising for the next FIA WTCC meeting in Japan. This is Coronel’s second home country, making it an event with high expectations for the Dutch driver.

After the race, Coronel said: “Sonoma is a very particular track and as we had never raced here before, every lap was important. In practice, things went wrong for me. I was driving behind my team mate and he wanted to let me pass in an acceleration zone in order to slot in behind me. Due to a communication error, I didn’t understand that and I ran into the back of his car at full speed. The front end of my car was massively damaged and I had to go back into the pits right away. This cost me valuable practice time in which I wanted to get to know the track better. I lost more than half an hour, time you certainly can’t do without at a challenging track like this.”

“In qualifying, things started well and I was eighth or ninth. Then, the red flag was out and I had to start all over again. I had only six minutes left to improve my time. I took a fresh set of tyres, did one warm-up lap and then wanted to go for it. However, I spun and I was 20th.”

“In warm-up, I finally got the feeling for the circuit. Right after the start of the first race, many things went wrong for the drivers in front of me. There were cars going off all over the place and I had to be very careful not to be hit by any of the swerving cars. I made it through and was in the top ten quickly. After that, I had a fight with Bennani and we made contact. I spun myself, too, but soon was back in control again, and with a good result on top of that.”

“The standing start of race two also went well and I made up some positions right away. This time, I had a good fight with Tiago Monteiro, but I also came off tha track. After that, overtaking was the only thing to do for me. I overtook one driver after another. Every time, I closed the gap under braking into the corners and passed them quite easily. Thus, I moved up from 20th to fifth. Considering that, and had I been a little bit further up on the grid, a podium finish would have been possible. This is our goal for the upcoming races in Japan. For that weekend, we now have a couple of fresh tyres left and with these, I hope to go for it like in the old days!”

Source: Roal Motorsport

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About this article
Series WTCC
Drivers Tom Coronel , Tiago Monteiro
Teams ROAL Motorsport
Article type Race report
Tags bmw, coronel, roal, sears point, usa