Tom Coronel is part of the selected group of only four drivers who are already racing the new generation of the Audi RS 3 LMS in the FIA WTCR, but Coronel proved once again that the previous generation of Audi’s touring car is also still capable of scoring podium results during the penultimate race weekend of the TCR Europe Series season, held at the beautiful Autodromo Nazionale Monza. In the first race, the Dutch driver with the Audi RS 3 LMS in DHL livery, run by Belgian team, Comtoyou Racing, finished a respectable third. In the second race, he even ended up classified second. « Two podium results with which I am now third in the European series’ standings, that is something I am quite happy with, » Coronel reported afterwards.
At Monza, TCR Europe Series was part of a varied and international package that also included, among others, GT Open, Euroformula Open, French Formula 4 and the German Porsche Carrera Cup. « In the free practice sessions, things started nicely with fifth and sixth place, both times as the best-placed Audi driver, » Coronel said. “We had found quite a good set-up: the car handled well, it was nice and consistent. » He continued this performance in qualifying, ending up third in the first session and fourth in the second heat. « In Q1, I had a nice slipstream, which here at Monza is worth half a second, » Coronel explained. « In Q2, I was the first driver to go out on track, but sadly, I wasn’t able to find a slipstream, also because of the fact that we were only twelve drivers on track in Q2 rather than 28. Nevertheless, we are quite nicely on the pace, although I still have ten kilograms extra in the car based on my result from Nürburgring. »
In the first race, Coronel didn’t have a good getaway, as he admitted: « Not good at all, in fact! It felt all right, but others were passing me to the left and to the right, so that is something we will need to spend some time on. After that, there were some nice battles, the usual toing and froing, even with two wheels on the grass from the slipstream, but I was able to make some good progress and was even up in second place. For three laps, I was in a battle with Azcona who eventually overtook me. Later on, I watched him fight with Franco Girolami, the brother of Nestor’s, one of my fellow WTCR competitors. They were really side by side, tangling with each other, so I thought: ‘Perhaps I will even get first place handed to me like this’, but it didn’t come to that. I finished third, right behind first and second place. I was able to keep up nicely, but wasn’t quite in a position to attack. Still, a podium finish is a nice feeling, of course! »
One day later, Coronel started seventh for the second race as a result of the reversed grid ruling. « I was on the damp side of the track, so I was even down in ninth place going into the first corner, » he reported. « Eventually, I was able to make some progress and also benefited from mistakes by other drivers, for instance as they went straight in the chicane. I overtook Borkovic, my teammate, Peugeot driver Clairet after a nice battle. Actually, I had quite some entertaining fights. Then I finished fourth on the road, but Azcona was given a penalty for cutting the chicane several times and Girolami was given a time penalty as well, so that I even ended up classified second. Two podium finishes, I am really glad with that! »
The TCR Europe Series season finale has been scheduled from 8-10 October at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, but that is causing a logistical problem for Tom Coronel as that event now clashes with the FIA WTRC round at Most in the Czech Republic following the recent change of the FIA WTCR calendar. « We are now studying possibilities to perhaps combine the two events, » Coronel says.