Spa-Francorchamps, 22 June, 2014 – For Tom Coronel, the seven kilometres long Spa Francorchamps circuit is his home track as Zandvoort is no longer on the WTCC calendar.
Traditionally, many fans are making the journey to the Belgian Ardennes region to see their hero race. Tom Coronel didn't disappoint them. In qualifying, the driver ended up eighth with his ROAL Motorsport Chevrolet Cruze, resulting into a third position on the grid for the second race with a reversed grid. After a good start into the first race, the 42-year old Dutchman initially made up one place and then won another three positions. At the finish line, the driver of the white-and-blue Cruze just managed to overtake Honda's Tiago Monteiro.
In the second race at the undulating track, Coronel had a strong getaway and moved up into the lead almost immediately. He managed to maintain this position until almost halfway through the race, but had to give in to the dominance of the works Citroëns. Eventually, López and Muller finished ahead of the Dutchman, who still managed to keep Monteiro's Honda and the third Citroën with Loeb at bay. Thus, Coronel's second podium finish of the season, which he celebrated together with his son Rocco, became reality. He is now sixth in the drivers' standings with 99 points.
After the races, Tom Coronel said: "Eventually, it turned out to be a beautiful weekend, but at first, it didn't look like it. In free practice on Friday, things didn't go well at all. I didn't use any fresh tyres, but I could find the right rhythm with the car. I think I was 13th. Together with my engineer, we decided in the evening to change the entire set-up of the car. In free practice, I used two new front tyres, but things still didn't go really well. I started qualifying with four new tyres and that turned out to be the right choice. The balance of the car was much better and I was able to keep up with the front-runners, which made me much happier. After qualifying, I still had six new tyres left. Two of them, I used in the first race and I saved the other four for the second race. In the first race, my start was quite okay and there was a long battle with the Hondas. We were three abreast until after Eau Rouge and towards Les Combes, I was in the sandwich and had two wheels on the grass. I had a huge battle with Morbidelli and Monteiro, but I saved my tyres to mount a final attack on the final lap. That worked out just before the finish, so that I came fifth with a very tiny margin, behind Morbidelli, but ahead of Monteiro. I had no damage to the car, so I was ready for the second race. I started with four fresh tyres and I knew that I had to make maximum use of them for the first three to four laps. That worked out. I had a good start and I was in the lead quite soon.
After that, I was only pushing to build up a margin that was as big as possible. I was leading by over two seconds and things were going well until the first Citroën approached quickly. Up to that point, I had made no mistake and I wanted to keep it that way. On the other hand, I didn't want to hand over the lead just like that either. In hindsight, I probably lost a little bit too much time there, allowing Muller to close up quickly as well. The Citroën drivers have so much excess speed, there is no way to fight with them, so I let Muller past easily and focussed on third place. That worked out and thus, it still became a great race with a great result, plenty of world championship points and nothing but happy faces. This really was the maximum that could be achieved and I am glad that I was able to show it to the many fans here. I drove well, I didn't make any mistakes and now, the car is in great condition to be loaded into the container on Tuesday for the next race in Argentina."
Result race 1: 1. Yvan Muller 9 laps in 22:09.364; 2. José Maria Lopez +3.689; 3. Sébastien Loeb +4.318 (all Citroën Racing C-Elysee); 4. Gianni Morbidelli (Chevrolet RML Cruze TC1) +21.125; 5. Tom Coronel (ROAL Motorsport Chevrolet Cruze) +21.998 and 6. Tiago Monteiro +22.071 (Honda Civic WTCC).
Result race 2: 1. José Maria Lopez 9 laps 22:16.645; 2. Yvan Muller +3.097 (both Citroën Racing C-Elysee); 3.Tom Coronel (ROAL Motorsport Chevrolet Cruze) +8.409; 4. Tiago Monteiro (Honda Civic WTCC) +8.912; 5. Sébastien Loeb +9.060 (Citroen Racing C-Elysee) and 6. Gianni Morbidelli (Chevrolet RML Cruze) +16.851.
Standings after 14 rounds: 1. José Maria Lopez 255 points; 2. Yvan Muller 216; 3. Sébastien Loeb 190; 4. Tiago Monteiro 125; 5. Gabriele Tarquini 105 and 6. Tom Coronel 99.
2014 FIA WTCC calendar*
Russia June 7-8
Belgium June 21-22
Argentina August 2-3
United States September 13-14
China October 11-12
Japan October 25-26
Macau November 14-16
(*subject to change)
Photo credits: Erik van der Schaaff & George Decoster.
Tom Coronel is supported in the FIA WTCC season 2014 by:
ROAL Motorsport, McGregor, TW Steel -big in oversized watches-, Valvoline, DHL, Equinix, Amando Face & Body Care, AkzoNobel Lesonal, De Wild Multi Print Solutions, AllSecur, ATP Event Experts, Bouwgroep Dijkstra Draisma, Super B, Intrax, Playseat, CM, Sparco en Uw Mooiste Foto.nl.