Tom Coronel writes motorsport history with gold medal in FIA Motorsport Games

At Circuit Paul Ricard in Le Castellet in the south of France, Tom Coronel has won the TCR touring car race that was part of the FIA Motorsport Games. As a result, he won a gold medal for The Netherlands in the event, also considered as the Olympic Games in motorsport. With his Audi RS 3 LMS, run by Belgian team, Comtoyou Racing, he was first across the line in the 15-lap race with an international field of drivers coming from 18 different countries. As a result, he claimed victory and the gold medal. « This was a race I was really eager to win, » Coronel commented afterwards. « Such a one-off race really is something special! »

Three years ago, Coronel was already present for the inaugural running of the FIA Motorsport Games, held in Rome and the nearby Vallelunga circuit at the time. « It was already really cool back then: we drove with the car to the Colosseum in Rome. Now, I was keen on being present again as well, but it was only finalised at a late stage, » Coronel reported.

The official opening ceremony took place in the port city of Marseille in the south of France on Wednesday evening while most of the competitions were held at and around Circuit Paul Ricard in Le Castellet. « It was all considerably bigger than three years ago: the number of participating countries had increased from 49 to 72 and the number of motorsport disciplines had grown considerably, too, from six to 16, » said Coronel, one of nine Dutch participants in the event.

Once again, the touring car competition was based on the TCR regulations, but running with tyres from Pirelli, the event’s exclusive supplier, was a new experience for Coronel. « We had tested with these tyres a week earlier and I had already won the race of the TCR Europe Series at Paul Ricard back in May, so I had the impression that the circuit suits me. That gave me a positive vibe. And racing on behalf of your country is a different feeling as well. There were also countries you normally never hear about in motorsport, such as Jamaica, for instance. During the event, I went out to watch the other Dutch participants more often, too, you look out for each other a little bit more and the Dutch federation KNAF also ensured that we regularly had contact between us. »

With third fastest time in first free practice on Friday, Coronel already gave an indication of the fact that he was a contender for a medal. He repeated this result in second free practice on Saturday around lunch time while he ended up second in qualifying late on Saturday afternoon, just a few hundredths of a second down on his Belgian teammate Gilles Magnus. That, therefore, also was his starting grid position for the qualifying race held late on Sunday morning. « In that race, my start wasn’t too good, my teammate had a slightly better getaway and took the lead, so for me it was more about managing the race and making it to the finish because there isn’t much point in taking any major risks during such a qualifying race, » the Dutch driver explained. « That is how I finished second behind Magnus and ahead of Jack Young with the Honda. »

As a result, he also started second for the feature race. « For that race, we had made many changes on the car because I was really determined to attack, » Coronel continued his report. « I had a good start, I was right on the rear bumper of my teammate Magnus and I was already considering whether I should start an attempt to overtake him in the hairpin, but then, all of a sudden, his driveshaft snapped. Of course, that was a pity for him. That handed me the lead and I was able to build a steady advantage and to win the race. That is really cool indeed! Tonight, there is a gala event where I can collect my gold medal. I definitely enjoyed it very much, a great experience and a beautiful success! »

Tom Coronel’s schedule still includes two race weekends for the FIA WTCR – World Touring Car Cup, from 10 till 12 November in Bahrain and from 25 till 27 November in Saudi Arabia.

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