Usually, street circuits suit Tom Coronel quite well. Nevertheless, the 45-year-old Dutchman didn’t feel comfortable in the season opener of the 2017 FIA WTCC at the Circuit Moulay El Hassan in Marrakesh. He clipped the wall twice in free practice and the set-up and the brakes weren’t as expected in qualifying. A pair of twelfth places on the grid was all that was left. Later in the evening, however, the stewards of the meeting issued penalties for two drivers who had qualified ahead of Tom Coronel.
Thus, Coronel and his ROAL Motorsport Chevrolet Cruze moved up to tenth place, which also meant the DHL pole position for the first Opening Race of this season, based on the reversed grid.
Tom Coronel FIA WTCC Race of Morocco
After a good start, he led the field until halfway through the first race, but then brake problems made him drop back to seventh and then to eighth place. Due to other drivers having problems, Tom Coronel started ninth on the grid for race two and concluded the race in eighth place after a thrilling battle with Rob Huff. In the championship standings, Tiago Monteiro is in the lead with 43 points. Tom Coronel is ninth with eight points. In the WTCC Trophy Drivers, he is ranked fourth with the same amount of points.
« It is good to be back on the grid with the trusted ROAL Motorsport team and in a field that includes many familiar drivers, but also plenty of new ones. Getting the season underway at a street circuit is something that I really like, but the practice sessions didn’t get me what I had hoped for at all. With the engineers, we worked hard to find some ways to improve until the very last minute, we went all the way back to the set-up we had last year, but we didn’t get it the way we wanted. I was a bit fortunate to be able to start the first race from pole position. The start went well, I took the lead, but the safety car was deployed one lap later after other drivers had collided. Racing resumed on lap five, but it was difficult for me to pull a gap. I had Guerrieri with his Cruze behind me and he, in turn, had the works drivers following him. My brakes started working less and less and the brake power was gone altogether halfway through the race. Fortunately, that happened at a point where it was possible and where there were no walls. I was able to continue without any damage, but lost yet another position to Chilton. Too bad, because we came really close to winning the race, » Tom Coronel reports.
He continues: “In between the races, we got some brake fluid from Campos (the team that prepares Guerrieri’s Cruze – ed.) to solve the brake problem. In the early stages of the second race, I still needed to find my way, but everything felt well. I went all-out in the battle with Rob Huff in the Citroën. We really fought for every inch, like in the old days. The braking worked well, but the handling of the car wasn’t excellent. Still, I was able to keep up and fight. That is what racing is all about. I also understood that we got the attention from the cameras and that is another reason why we are doing all this: to provide action and entertainment for the crowd. Now we still need to find our way to the podium and then we are where we want to be,