Tom Coronel’s trip to Japan served various purposes. First of all, he visited the Tokyo Motorshow to generate footage for Dutch TV show RTL Autowereld together with his regular camera man Alvin. Tom is a co-host for this PMGTV programme. After that, the two men continued their journey through the country and recorded their experience and adventures. For instance, they visited the apartment where Tom Coronel used to live when racing in Japan and other interesting venues. Eventually, the trip brought them to the Suzuka Circuit for the WTCR races. Afterwards, Tom Coronel is visiting the DENSO company, for which he is the European ambassador. A packed programme with many highlights that will be shown on RTL Autowereld.
But back to Suzuka, where the Dutchman was quite competitive in the free practice sessions in his beloved racing country, but lacked a little bit of luck in the timed sessions. Heavy rain and the subsequent aquaplaning in particular were the reason that he collided with fellow CUPRA driver Mikel Azcona in the opening stages of qualifying already. Second qualifying was held on a dry track and required a quick adaptation to slick tyres. After Tom Coronel had made his choice for slicks, he didn’t have the time to warm them up properly because the session was stopped early with the red flag. As a result, he started well down the grid for all three races.
A good start followed by a very strong performance with a lot of battles resulted into a 16th place finish in the first race. The second race, held on Sunday morning, was a similar affair, although a Hugarian Honda driver in front of him who was difficult to overtake halted his progress. That explained his finish in 22nd place. The start of the fial race was a turbulent one and saw the Dutchman’s campaign end prematurely in the third corner. A driver who had gone off the track slid back onto the asphalt and hit Coronel’s DHL CUPRA on the right rear wheel. He careened off into the gravel trap and retired as a result. Thus, the weekend didn’t bring any championship points for the Dutchman, who is already looking ahead to the upcoming races. First, there are next weekend’s FIA Motorsport Games at Vallelunga in Italy where he will be racing his Honda Civic. The next WTCR races will be taking place at the challenging street circuit of Macau mid-November.
« Japan is always good for me, » Tom Coronel opens his report. « It remains impressive to see how many people are still coming over to meet me. I have been racing here for years and they still haven’t forgotten about it. Look how many presents I have received, how many people want to have their picture taken with me or want a signed autograph card. That remains a really special experience. Of course, I hoped to be able to give something back to these fans. In the free practice sessions, it worked out well. I was on the pace and the times were good. First qualifying however took place in torrential rain. I still wanted to go out, of course, but I soon ended up in aquaplaning, I hit Mikel Azcona and ended up last on the grid as a result. In second qualifying, I was a little bit more cautious. On a drying track, I still didn’t go out with slicks straight away, but still changed to slicks afterwards. Normally, they need some time to warm up properly, but I didn’t have that time anymore. After one of the others had gone off the track, red flags were out, so once again, I couldn’t improve my grid position.
« In the first race, things went perfectly. I had a good getaway and I managed to gain a few positions to finish 16th. That was some really nice racing. In the second race, it was similar, but I got stuck behind Attila Tassi and had no way to overtake him. As a result, I lost contact to the drivers in front, even though the speed was definitely there. 22nd place was all I could do.
« So it was on to race three, but I was unable to see the starting light properly. I had radio contact with my engineer, but there was a misunderstanding about when the lights went out. Things really went wrong in turn three as Ritomo Miyata spun and returned onto the track, hitting my right rear wheel. I ended up in the gravel bed and the race was over. Too bad, as it was actually going quite well, even though I didn’t score any points this time.
« Now, the focus is on next weekend where I will be racing the Honda on behalf of Team Netherlands in the FIA Motorsport Games, and then the next WTCR round at the street circuit of Macau. Yet another circuit of which I have fond memories, so let’s hope it all works out there, » Tom Coronel concludes.
Result race 1 Suzuka Japan:
1. Esteban Guerrieri (Arg) Honda Civic TCR 26 laps in 26m3.701s
2. Niels Langeveld (Ned) Audi RS3 LMS +0.460;
3. Tiago Monteiro (Por) Honda Civic TCR +1.602;
4. Thed Björk (Swe) Lynk & Co 03 TCR +1.991;
5. Johan Kristoffersson (Swe) Volkswagen Golf Gti TCR +2.400;
16.Tom Coronel (Ned) CUPRA TCR +14.589.
1. Norbert Michelisz (Hon) Hyundai i30 N TCR 24 laps 22m01.538s
2. Rob Huff (GBr) Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR +0.293;
3. Gabriele Tarquini (Ita) Hyundai i30 N TCR +8.205;
4. Kevin Ceccon (Ita) Alfa Romeo Giulietta TCR +8.531;
5. Thed Björk (Swe) Lynk & Co 03 TCR +11.102;
22. Tom Coronel (Ned) CUPRA TCR +29.493.
1. Johan Kristoffersson (Swe) 30 laps in 30m07.581s
2. Esteban Guerrieri (Arg) Honda Civic TCR +3.070;
3. Thed Björk (Swe) Lynk & Co 03 TCR +11.063;
4. Gabriele Tarquini (Ita) BRC Hyundai N Squadra Corse +11.715;
5. Andy Priaulx (GBr) Cyan Performance Lynk & Co +12.545;
29. Tom Coronel (Ned) CUPRA TCR retired.