WTCR: Tom Coronel in turmoil in China

© DR

At the 4.01 kilometres long track, the Dutch driver initially was defeated by technology. During the practice sessions, he was lacking the engine power to be able to take on the rest of the field. As a result, he had to start from the back.


In the first race, held on Saturday afternoon, the Dutchman had a good getaway, moved up to 14th place, but then the car went into emergency mode again. That led to Coronel eventually being classified 24th. During the evening, the mechanics finally identified the problem. A crack in a turbo hose had caused the issue. As a result, the car was in much better condition for the practice sessions and the races on the second day, on which, like before, the gaps were minimal. Every mistake, no matter how small, was punished by the stopwatch. Even more so: the times of the first 19 drivers were all within one second. Coronel needed a few tenths more for a lap and ended up 21st on the grid.

The second race, run on Sunday morning, included plenty of incidents from the opening lap onwards. From behind the wheel of his Cupra, now running considerably better, Coronel had a good view of the action unfolding in front of him. Soon after that, the safety car emerged for an extended intervention. And even though the Cupra had some damage as well, Coronel went on as racing resumed and finished ninth. As a result, he also added world championship points to his tally. After frenetic work to repair as much as possible from the damage in the pit boxes, the third race got underway. Once again, there was no lack of on-track action and Coronel became involved once more. He even had to make an additional pit stop to have some grass removed from the radiator. After that, he soldiered on and saw his efforts rewarded with a 12th-place finish.

« This was a cool, but also a special weekend, » Tom Coronel reported. « I have been involved in touring car racing long enough to know that the going can be pretty tough at times. But here, it probably was a bit too much sometimes. Afterwards, all drivers were summoned to remain at the circuit for a long time as the stewards had a lot of work to do in dealing with all the incidents. There was so much damage! »

In the second race, the factory teams really battled it out with each other and didn’t shy away from playing it hard. The final race wasn’t much better in that respect. I had a mixed weekend. We were lacking power and weren’t able to find the reason straight away. Something that also affected me in the first race. I made a good start, I was 14th and then the engine went into emergency mode. I think I simply had 50 hp less than normally. In the evening, the mechanics had another thorough look and found a crack in the turbo hose. That was the reason for the mechanical issues. Things went well during qualifying on Sunday morning. I was a second faster than on the previous day and only a minor mistake was the reason that I lost three tenths of a second. Then you are down in 21st place in a field that is as competitive as this. And then the first race on Sunday. It was argy-bargy from the very beginning. Rarely before have I seen something like this. Left and right, cars were going off the track and getting damage. I made my way through it all quite nicely and I was soon up in 15th place. After the safety car, I kept making progress and after some battles, I was ninth across the line. However, my Cupra wasn’t entirely damage-free following contact from Rob Huff, so plenty of work for the mechanics, but that was the case for all the teams.

The start of the second race went well, I made nice progress through the field, until I was hit by Tiago Monteiro, had to run through the grass and saw the engine temperature rising. I went to the pits to have the grass removed from the radiator. Thankfully, that was during a safety car intervention, so I was able to close up to the others again pretty quickly. For the remaining laps, I drove nicely and had some good fights. Twelfth place was all I could manage. After this weekend, I have used up some doors, a front and a rear bumper and a side skirt. They were all lost in the heavy battles. Once again, I love touring car racing, also if it is a bit heavy, but this probably was a bit too much. As a result, all drivers had to stay at the circuit afterwards because the stewards had a lot of work to do. Perhaps that also still has consequences for the results that still remain provisional.

I will go to Barcelona later this week, it is time for the next round of TCR Europe. We have the pace and we are ready for some good races in my Honda Civic TCR. »

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