– Rain determins results in Moscow FIA WTCC round
– Tom Coronel took risks, but was hit on the opening lap of race two and retired
Changeable weather conditions had a considerable effect on proceedings and the outcome of the two FIA WTCC races at Moscow Raceway in Volokolamsk, in use since 2012. At the almost four kilometres long race track in the wider area of Moscow, Tom Coronel claimed a fourth and a seventh starting grid position with the ROAL Motorsport Chevrolet Cruze.
In qualifying, the Dutch driver looked set for tenth place for a long time, which would see him on pole position for the first race. However, margins between the various drivers were very small and thus, chances were considerable that another driver could take that good grid position. Tom dared to gamble a little bit, but not too much. That was the reason he stayed out on track with his DHL yellow car till the very end and eventually improved his lap time. That resulted into the starting grid positions that, according to Coronel, reflected the positions where he should be in the field. On Saturday, weather and track conditions changed many times and on the Sunday of the races, the first big rain drops appeared on the windshields as the formation lap got underway. That prompted race control to declare the race a ‘wet race’, leaving the choice between tyres with less or more profile to the drivers and teams. Tom Coronel opted for rain tyres.
In the first race, the main objective was to stay on the asphalt without any damage and to make it to the finish. The ROAL Motorsport Cruze had a hard time on the wet track, but Tom Coronel battled it out with others. He won and he lost some ground and ran between sixth and eighth place, not a bad result given the conditions. Halfway through the race, the stewards of the meeting decided to impose a drive through penalty to two drivers for not having been correctly lined up in the starting grid boxes. One of the drivers involved was Tom Coronel, who dropped back and finished twelfth as a result. For Coronel, the second race started with a brief off-track excursion from the still very slippery asphalt in the first corner. Several of his opponents went past on the inside. Soon after that, Coronel was slightly hit and got off the track again, but this time, the rear axle was damaged, making it almost impossible to drive the car. The only thing left to do for the Dutchman was head into the pits and retire.
Afterwards, Tom Coronel reported: In qualifying, everything felt well. Conditions were tricky: it was wet one time and dry the next. I was somewhere around eighth, ninth or tenth position and that is where we usually prefer to be, given the reversed starting grid order for the first race. Eventually, I ended up fourth and seventh on the grid, which was slightly better than expected, but due to the changeable conditions, it was very difficult to draw any conclusions. Isn’t it remarkable, by the way, that we have had rain in every FIA WTCC weekend so far this season? I think that is pretty unique. In the first race, I had a lot of battles with Nick Catsburg, Norbert Michelisz, Tiago Monteiro and Yvan Muller. At times, the fights were quite intense with some contact, but I definitely enjoyed it. Once, I made a mistake myself and had a lot of oversteer at a corner exit, but for the rest, everything went well. Until the moment, that is, when the team informed me that I had been given a drive through penalty. That in itself already is quite special for me, I can’t recall ever having been given such a penalty. Later on, I was informed about the reason and I really found that special: not having been lined up correctly in the starting grid box. I suppose it was justified, but I had never heard about it. Well, then I rejoined the race, I still had a battle with Chilton and I ended up twelfth overall and fourth among the privateers. In all honesty, I think I could have done better. The second race was a brief affair. I locked up under braking for the first corner and went straight, I returned onto the track and I was hit by Mehdi Bennani. This time, damage to the rear of the car was such that I wasn’t able to continue. Too bad, because that cost me valuable points here. The next circuit we will be racing on is Vila Real. To me, that track is in the same category as Hungary, Morocco and Japan: circuits where I usually do well, so let’s assume that this will be the case again. It will also be the last race of the season in this region, because after that, the action continues in Argentina and Asia. Oh, and one thing I certainly would like to mention is that Nick Catsburg did a fantastic job here, of course!
Result Opening Race Moscow Raceway:
1. Gabriele Tarquini (Ita) 15 laps in 29:39.384;
2. Nicky Catsburg (Ned) +4.782 both Lada Vesta WTCC;
3. Yvan Muller (Fra) Citroën C-Elysée +16.062;
4. Hugo Valente (Fra) Lada Vesta WTCC +23.683;
5. José-Maria López (Arg) Citroën C-Elysée +28.092
12. Tom Coronel (Ned) ROAL Motorsport Chevrolet Cruze TC1 +51.753.
Race 2 (Main Race):
1. Nicky Catsburg (Ned) 17 laps;
2. Gabriele Tarquini +1.011 both Lada Vesta WTCC;
3. Norbert Michelisz (Hon) +13.681;
4. Rob Huff (GBr) +20.120;
5. Tiago Monteiro (Por) +25.497 all Honda Civic WTCC
Tom Coronel ROAL Motorsport Chevrolet Cruze TC1 retired on the opening lap.