Tom Coronel says that his performance during the first World Touring Car Championship round of the season in Brazil gives him confidence for the rest of the year.
The Dutchman was making his debut for Roberto Ravaglia's ROAL Motorsport team, racing the BMW 320 TC for the first time.
After finishing fourth in Race One behind a Chevrolet-dominated podium, Coronel made a lightning start to Race Two and led for much of the race. However, he could not hold off Chevrolet driver Alain Menu and had to settle for second. Nonetheless, the runner-up spot was a result that delighted Coronel and the ROAL team. He sits fourth in the drivers' standings as the series moves onto Belgium for the second round on 24th April.
“These are the results that give ROAL Motorsport, BMW and myself the confidence that we need for the races to come,” said Coronel. “The next event will be at the circuit of Zolder in Belgium next month. These are my home races in this championship, so that is promising quite something.”
Coronel was caught out in qualifying, when he went out on the track later than most of the other drivers, just as rain began to fall. “In qualifying, we were still having some small technical problems. Nothing serious, but solving them cost us some time and that meant that eighth place on the grid for race one and third place for race two was all I could manage.”
Despite his lower grid position, Coronel made a strong start to Race One to end up fighting Kristian Poulsen for fourth place and the honour of top BMW driver. “I had a dream start from eighth place. I was able to overtake many drivers, was briefly up in fourth place, but had to give that up having been hit by fellow BMW driver Poulsen. He got a warning for hitting me, but he was able to race on, so it was down to me to decide it on the track. He made more and more mistakes on the last few laps and on the final lap, I managed to overtake him. Thus, I claimed fourth place and that was a good result to start with for all of us. We are realistic and we know that the Chevrolets are hard to beat, but this is racing, so you should never give up.”
“[In Race Two I got] another dream start”, he said. “I was in the lead and tried to pull a gap. That went quite well, but halfway through the race, I saw the cars behind me closing up. My gap got smaller and Alain Menu overtook me on the inside where I didn't expect him. Just like in the first race, I decided to stay behind him and I kept hoping for Menu to make a mistake. He did so indeed, but not enough for me to overtake him. In his slipstream, I came home in second place and to be honest, that was more than what my team principals Roberto Ravaglia and Umberto Grano and I had hoped for.
“We have proven that we are competitive and that is giving us a good feeling – especially with the next race taking place in Zolder in Belgium. I am expecting a lot of Dutch fans there and I hope for a good result.”