An oil leek costs Tom Coronel a good result in Qatar



Losail, November 28, 2015 – In Qatar, DHL driver Tom Coronel was denied the chance to enjoy the ‘moment of fame’ he so often talks about when getting the chance to shine among the works teams. “It is simple, what more is there to say,” he spoke calmly at Losail International Circuit after a leaking oil cooler had prevented him from scoring a podium finish that was in sight and that would have put a good end to the season for him.

Nevertheless, there was a little bit of joy for Tom Coronel. As a slight consolation for his unfortunate outing at Qatar, he and his British team mate Tom Chilton managed to claim a prize for their team ROAL Motorsport. With the team’s ‘pair of Toms’ finishing twelfth and 13th respectively with their Chevrolet Cruzes in the 24th and final WTCC race, they won the independents teams’ title. For team owners, Roberto Ravaglia and Aldo Preo, this resulted into a bonus of a ‘free entry’ for the 2016 season with a value of 38,000 Euros.

“And that slightly helps me with the budget for next year,” Tom Coronel cautiously calculated his advantage. “Now, it is up to me to get things in place for 2016. I want to race in the WTCC again, because I am a genuine WTCC driver. This season hasn’t been one of my best, although I regularly finished in the top ten. I can do better, though. I know that and I want to prove it. Prior to the season, I had predicted two to three podium finishes, but I only managed to do it once by finishing second in Hungary. At Vila Real in Portugal, I also had chances of finishing on the podium, but there, Chinese driver Ma got in my way during qualifying. At Qatar, I also had good chances of claiming my ‘moment of fame’. After all, for the second race, I would have been on one of the best grid positions.”

However, it wasn’t to be for him in the race that marked a first for the WTCC in three different ways. The series had its first event in Qatar, its first in the evening at the circuit outside the capital Doha, a beautifully lit and state-of-the-art facility. Moreover, the format was new, too, with qualifying and the races all taking place on Friday. In testing and free practice 1, Tom wasn’t happy with his car yet, but he was delighted about the circuit. “A real drivers’ circuit with many flowing corners. Getting all the sectors right in one lap is very difficult. The car was a disaster. I had no grip whatsoever. On every lap, I came off the track once, which means crossing the white lines.”

It was only after changes had been made to the springs and camber that Tom felt at ease with his Cruze again. “After that, the car did what I wanted it to do. I could position it where I wanted.” For Tom, qualifying went well with ninth place on the grid for race 1 and as a result second place for race two, based on the ‘reversed grid’ system. Pole postion went to French driver John Filippi, also with a Chevrolet, who hadn’t been given a weight penalty, just like the other Cruzes. Race 2 resulted into drama for both drivers. Filippi blew his chances by jumping the start and Tom had to start from the pitlane.

“I already heard some strange noises in the car on my way to the grid for race 1. I did’t know what it was, but I felt that I was sliding in the first few corners already. I called over the radio: “This isn’t my car.” It turned out that oil was leaking on my tyres, but I didn’t know it at the time. I didn’t head into the pits, because I was able to keep up with the rest of the field quite nicely. I had lost some positions, but I managed to keep Huff and his Lada at bay behind me. Also, I had to keep going on because of the points for the teams’ championship. Unfortunately, during the repair break in between the two races, there turned out to be a leak in the oil cooler that had to be repaired. That took so much time that the pit window was closed and I had to start from the pitlane.”

The only thing Tom could do is still try to score as many points as possible for his team. A safety car intervention during the opening lap due to accidents allowed him to join the field quickly. There, he was still able to enjoy a ‘moment of fame’. “I was stuck behind Dakar winner and local hero Nasser Al-Attiyah, who contested his first WTCC races as a guest driver. I was right behind him, but I just didn’t manage to find a way past. ‘I don’t want that rally driver to finish ahead of me’, I thought, so I kept on pushing until he made mistake that forced him to get off track. As a result, Nasser was able to show in which discipline he is a star, rally driving. That was fun.” After all…

Result race 1:
1. López (Arg) Citroën 12 laps, 2. Bennani (Mar) Citroën, 3. Valente (Fra) Chevrolet, 4. Loeb (Fra) Citroën, 5. Ma (Chin) Citroën, 6. Muller (Fra) Citroën, 7. Michelisz (Hon) Honda, 8. Monteiro (Por) Honda, 9. Catsburg (Ned) Lada, 10. D’Aste (Ita) Chevrolet, 12. Coronel (Ned) Chevrolet, 14. Chilton (GBr) Chevrolet.
Result Race 2:
1. Muller 14 laps, 2. Ma, 3. Michelisz, 4. Loeb, 5. Bennani, 6. Valente, 7. Tarquini (Ita) Honda, 8. López, 9. Monteiro, 10. Lapierre (Fra) Lada, 12. Coronel , 13. Chilton
Final standings WTCC
1. López 475, 2. Muller 357, 3. Loeb 356, 12. Coronel 39.

Photo credits 1st photo: David Noels

Both comments and pings are currently closed.

Comments are closed.