A week after the start of the TCR Europe Series in Portugal, where he started the season with a podium finish, Tom Coronel started the new year of racing in the FIA WTCR – World Touring Car Cup in Pau in the south of France.
Overtaking is difficult on the street circuit, where racing has been going on since 1933. That is why it was even more disappointing that Coronel was unable to live up to the high expectations after the free practice sessions in qualifying. Nevertheless, the Dutch driver in the Audi RS 3 LMS of the Comtoyou DHL Team Audi Sport was able to make up a number of places in both races. He finished the first race in eleventh place, in the second race Coronel was classified twelfth.
Tom Coronel starts TCR Europe Series with podium in Portimão.
For Coronel, the start of the FIA WTCR season on the Pau street circuit meant returning to the location where he had last raced with the then FIA WTCC in 2009. “I had to find my way again,” he said. For example, Coronel finished the first free practice in the rear, but in the second free practice he was sixth and therefore the fastest Audi driver in the field. “That offered perspective. In terms of speed, we were doing well and that gave me a good feeling for qualifying,” said Coronel.
The reality turned out to be different, however, as qualifying ultimately resulted in no more than 16th place on the grid for both races. “Too bad, I’m really disappointed about that,” Coronel admitted honestly. “I just didn’t manage well in qualifying. I made a mistake once myself, then got behind another rider and lost time and on my next attempt I had a right front tire that was deflating slowly, so that didn’t help either. In terms of speed it certainly could have been done, but on a street circuit you also have to be in the right place at the right time and unfortunately that didn’t work out. I’m really excited about that.”
In the races Coronel managed to make up for the necessary positions. He says: “In race one I really had a rocket start! The circuit is very narrow here in the first corner, so it was quite messy with some contact too. In the end I was able to overtake Tiago Monteiro and Rob Huff, those were the first two. Then Huff and I got into a good fight, actually all race long. My whole rear was put together, he kept pounding, but it was a nice and fair race. As race buddies, we know how to deal with that. That’s how I ended up eleventh, which is not bad at all on a street circuit from 16th place on the grid.”
Coronel also had an excellent start in the second race, but fell victim to the competition. “I had a really good start, I was on the inside and I was already three past it, but in one go it comes to a complete stop in front of me, so I had to fully anchor and was completely stuck behind my teammates. So I had to rejoin all the way at the back, and from that last place I managed to overtake a few more and so I finished twelfth. P11 and P12 from 16th on the grid is not that bad, and also without significant damage. That’s a pretty decent start. We took points, we were smart, that’s the most important thing.”
Tom Coronel’s next appearance will be the two races of the TCR Europe Series on May 21 and 22 at Circuit Paul Ricard in Le Castellet in southeastern France. The following week, the next two races of the FIA WTCR are scheduled to support the 24-hour race at the Nürburgring-Nordschleife.
Tom Coronel is supported by: DHL, Eurol Lubricants, Tricorp Workwear, ERU Prestige, Ireckonu, Business Data Challengers, Bouwgroep Dijkstra Draisma, Patina, Oranjedak, Intrax Suspension Technology, API-4-BRANDS, ASC Group, P1 Advanced Racewear, Australian Footwear , Super B, FEBO, CM and Copernica.
images © Antonin Vincent / DPPI