– Clever qualifying strategy brings DHL pole position and second win
– Tom Coronel scores well in final European FIA WTCC meeting
Circuito Internacional de Vila Real, the over 4.7 kilometres long undulating and demanding race track in Portugal, ranks among Tom Coronel’s favourite venues. In qualifying, everything worked out exactly as planned for him.
With the ROAL Motorsport Chevrolet Cruze, he claimed the DHL pole position for the opening race in which he scored victory for the second time this season, which also made him the best-placed privateer in the field. Race two started from tenth place for the Dutchman, but his good start was penalised with a drive through, after which he was classified 16th in the race.
Especially the start of qualifying was a thrilling affair. Tom Coronel continuously ranked around seventh or eighth place. As the end of the season came near, the Dutchman dropped to tenth place. That would mean pole position with the reversed grid ruling for the opening race, but none of the others would be allowed to go faster. Thus, Tom Coronel remained out on track to wait and see what would happen. Nothing changed, so he secured himself the best possible grid position for the 13th race of the season. Compatriot Nicky Catsburg lined up next to him with his Lada.
After a good start, Tom Coronel took the lead straight away. Catsburg lost a place to Tom Chilton in one of the Citroëns. Coronel battled with his team-mate from last year for the entire duration of the race. He managed to keep the Citroën at bay and crossed the finish line as the winner. Chilton finished second, Catsburg came third.
Afterwards, Tom Coronel reported: « In qualifying, things were going well. Within the team, there was quite a lot of stress, but that didn’t really affect me. I knew what I wanted and I executed my plan as I had it in mind. Of course, it was thrilling and you have to hope that you don’t have many drivers suddenly going faster. Like that, eighth to tenth place can easily become 13th place, and then you are out. You also need a little bit of luck and that is what we had. Pole position for the first race was in the bag and that meant the best possible grid position for me. We knew that overtaking is difficult here and I knew the drivers around me very well, both Nicky and Tom Chulton, my team-mate from last year. After Tom Chilton quickly was in second place, I watched attentively to see where he was faster and where his braking points were. I planned out my race according to that, I pulled away wherever I could and actually, I didn’t get into trouble anywhere. At a certain point, I was sure that he wouldn’t be doing any crazy things. There was another race and there is hardly any time to repair damage. I knew that I would be able to score a good result here, but I didn’t expect to take my second WTCC race win of the season. This good result fits in well with the races earlier in the year. We were also on the pace at Paul Ricard, in Hungary and for instance at the Nürburgring. The second race here in Portugal got underway with a jump start. The engine threatened to stall and I had to lift the brake pedal. After that, I didn’t take any risks and finished the race. I still hoped for some points, but that turned out to be difficult. Now, the cars will be shipped in Antwerp for the journey to Argentina, so I wanted to ensure that the car would be without damage, and I managed. After the summer break, at the beginning of August, action continues at Termas de Rio Hondo. »
Result Opening Race Vila Real:
1. Tom Coronel (Ned) ROAL Motorsport Chevrolet Cruze TC 1, 13 laps;
2. Tom Chilton (GBr) Citroën C-Elysée + 0.597;
3. Nicky Catsburg (Ned) Lada Vesta WTCC +2.626,
4. Mehdi Bennani (Mar) Citroën C-Elysée WTCC +3.145;
5. José Mar