– Fifth race win in WTCC for Tom Coronel
– Dutch driver now in top ten of 2016 FIA WTCC standings
The new, semi-permanent and three kilometres long Circuit Internationale Automobile Moulay El Hassan, located in the Marrakech hotel district, proved to be a good venue for Tom Coronel. The Dutchman started from fourth place on the grid for the Opening Race during the fourth round of the 2016 FIA World Touring Car Championship and went on to score the fifth overall WTCC race win of his career.
For the 44-year-old ROIAL Motorsport driver, his last win to date was already three years ago (Japan 2013). With his Chevrolet Cruze, Coronel already posted the fastest lap time in the second free practice session. In the subsequent qualifying, he was unable to repeat this achievement. Initially, he was fifth, but brake problems in the closing stages made him drop to seventh. That meant fourth place on the (reversed) grid in the Opening Race of the weekend that turned out to be such a successful one. Coronel started from the fourth row on the grid for the Main Race that took place on a rain-soaked track. The position he had gained at the start was lost one lap later when the Chevrolet ran wide in a corner. Due to his dry weather set-up, Coronel dropped back to ninth and then to twelfth place, which was all he could do in this race. In the 2016 FIA WTCC drivers’ standings, Coronel is now in ninth place with 41 points while he is third in the WTCC Trophy for privateers.
Free practice went well. Just like other street circuits, this is a track that suits me. I was always somewhere between fourth and eighth place and that was more or less our goal. It was quite strange that I ended up fastest in second free practice while using my qualifying tyres from Hungary, Tom Coronel said.
None of us had expected this and it gave us a moral boost for the remaining sessions. The car handled well, provided plenty of grip and expectations were accordingly high. Still, I didn’t quite manage to put such a nice time on the stopwatch again. I had to deal with some more oversteer and the brakes didn’t always give me a perfect feeling, so I was slightly more cautious, because you just can’t make any mistakes with all the walls along the track. For me, the start of the first race went well and I moved up two places right away. Then, I saw what was happening in front of me and I knew that Valente was doing something that would incur him a penalty. Thus, he disappeared into the pits and I found myself in the lead. I was slightly worried about the tyres, although I didn’t have anyone in front of me, so they could cool down really well. I had López behind me who made a few attempts. Braking later, tapping on the rear of my car again and again, but never over the top, because he didn’t want to risk a penalty. As a result, I was able to stay in the lead and I won the race. A fantastic result and great for the entire team. A little bit like Leicester City winning the Premier League. A great success for our small team in the big field with the factory teams. It also really was a nice race, thrilling and with a fantastic result. And talking of results, things have been going pretty well all season so far. The second race, however, was a drama. We had the car set up for dry conditions and that doesn’t work at all when the track is so wet. The rear was faster than the front and it was one slide after another with the rain tyres. I did what I could to fight for positions, but I had to back off several times. I didn’t want to crash the car, because the next race is at Nürburgring in three weeks and I want to race there, too, so I kept the damage limited, I scored my points and I am now looking forward to the next races. Bring it on, I am ready, Tom Coronel says.
Result Opening Race Marrakech:
1. Tom Coronel (Ned) ROAL Motorsport Chevrolet RML Cruze TC 1 – 21 laps; 2. José-Mar