– Front row start in Main Race for Tom Coronel as the best-placed privateer driver
– Second-best privateer driver in wet second race
The 4.381 kilometres long Hungaroring in Mogyoród near the Hungarian capital Budapest often proved to be a good venue for Tom Coronel in the past. This year, during the third meeting of the 2016 FIA World Touring Car Championship season, the Dutchman had no reason to complain either.
With his ROAL Motorsport-prepared Chevrolet Cruze, he showed a strong performance in qualifying. That resulted into eighth place on the grid for the Opening Race and an excellent second starting grid position for the Main Race. Therefore, Tom Coronel had plenty of reason to be happy on the Saturday.
On Sunday, however, it was a different affair. Heavy rain showers turned the recently resurfaced track into a very slippery affair and from his eighth place on the grid, Tom Coronel chose to play it safe in order to make it to the second race without any damage. In the first race, he even dropped out of the top ten. A tyre change during the race resulted into better grip, but not into a better result. Tom Coronel finished in 15th position. The weather hardly changed, so the Main Race, later in the afternoon, also was held at a rain-soaked and, above all, slippery track. Tom Coronel was second going into the first corner, but was hit in both the first and the second corner and dropped back as a result. After a safety car intervention, the ROAL Motorsport driver again was able to make up a few positions in the second part of the race and finished in seventh place overall as the second-best privateer driver.
This time, my proverbial moment of fame certainly was in qualifying, Tom Coronel starts his report with a smile. We still had one set of tyres left from the previous event and we made maximum use of it. From the first free practice session, I was right on the pace. At the end of first qualifying, I was eleventh and I actually wanted to save another set of tyres. In the end, however, I didn’t and with that set, I ended up fourth and made it into Q3 for the second time this year, a real surprise. But the biggest surprise was yet to come, because in Q3, I managed to post the second-fastest time in spite of two mistakes. That made the entire team go ballistic, especially as it also brought me some more world championship points.
Prior to race 1, everybody who knew something about it told us that the rain would stop sometime around 1 o’clock, so we opted for slicks as a result, like most of the top drivers. Only the Volvo drivers made a different choice. However, the experts turned out to be wrong. It kept raining and there wasn’t much I could do on slicks. I went in for a tyre change, but my chances in the race were gone. In race 2, once again in the rain, I had a great start, but in the first corner, Rob Huff ran into my car and Bennani did it likewise soon after that. Thus, I immediately lost a couple of places. Apart from that, I had a good race with some nice fights with various works drivers. I had an intense battle with Nicky Catsburg and I was surprised by his racing lines sometimes. I also had a fight with my former team-mate Chilton and I tried to stay ahead of him to become the best-placed privateer. I only just missed out. Towards the end, Michelisz slid across the track with a broken suspension and that cost me another position in favour of Rob Huff, Tom Coronel reported afterwards. He is now looking forward to the next event in Marrakech. That is another circuit that suits the Chevrolet and I hope that we can do as well there as we did here. However, I could do without rain there. Then, better race results are absolutely within reach.
Result Opening Race Hungaroring:
1.Mehdi Bennani (Mar) Citroën C-Elysée WTCC 14 laps;
2. Tom Chilton (GBr) Citroën C-Elysée +3.313;
3. Nicky Catsburg (Ned) Lada Vesta WTCC +6.367;
4. Fredrik Ekblom (Swe) Volvo S60 Polestar +13.918;
5. Gabriele Tarquini (Ita) Lada Vesta WTCC +14.566;
6. Hugo Valente (Fra) Lada Vesta WTCC +29.575
15. Tom Coronel (Ned) Chevrolet RML Cruze TC1.
Race 2 (Main Race):
1. José-Maria López (Arg) Citroën C-Elysée WTCC) 17 laps;
2. Yvan Muller (Fra) Citroën C-Elysée +2.821;
3. Tiago Monteiro (Por) Honda Civic WTCC +14.981;
4. Thed Björk (Swe) Volvo S60 WTCC +18.026;
5.Tom Chilton (GBr) Citroën C-Elysée +19.834;
6. Rob Huff (GBr) Honda Civic WTCC +24.535
7. Tom Coronel (Ned) Chevrolet RML Cruze TC1 +26.979.
Standings afer 6 races:
1. Lopez 106 points;
2. Monteiro 94;
3. Bennani 77;
4. Huff 60;
5. Muller 54;
6. Michelisz 53
13. Coronel 16.