Tom Coronel recently enjoyed his first go behind the wheel of the BMW he will race in the 2011 World Touring Car Championship. He is now looking forward to the start of the season with just over a month to go until the opening round in Curitiba, Brazil on 20th March.
The Dutchman joined up with his new ROAL Motorsport team at the Vallelunga Circuit near Rome in Italy for two days of testing with the new BMW 320 TC model, which is fitted with the new 1.6 litre engine developed by BMW Motorsport.
Coronel was happy with his first experience of the car. “It all fits,” he said. “The new 1.6 litre turbo engine has a great throttle response and provides a lot of power. The team is highly professional, which is making it great for a driver to work with. All in all, we have racked up 55 laps and collected a lot of data.
“For me, it was a good way to familiarise with the new car. The different character of the turbo engine and, of course, the rear-wheel drive, forced me to adapt my driving style. You immediate note the increase in power when the turbo is coming in. That is something we have to be a little bit careful with during the races, because it puts quite some pressure on the tyres.”
Coronel was also pleased following his first chance to work with the Italian ROAL team, lead by former touring car drivers Roberto Ravaglia and Umberto Grano. “I am really impressed by my first meeting with the team. Roberto and Umberto know exactly what you are looking at as a driver and that is what they tell the team. Like this, it works fine, because it allows me to fully concentrate on finding the right set-up of the car.”
Ravaglia, who won the 1987 World Touring Car Championship title in a BMW, was also happy with how the first test with Coronel had gone. “It was the first test with the new car and the new driver,” said Ravaglia. “Therefore our priority was to establish a good understanding between Tom and the team. I think that Coronel was the best choice we could make. I know him since his maiden touring car race, back in 1991 or 1992, when we shared a BMW M3 in Pergusa. I like him, because he is a professional and very fast driver, but at the same time he is also capable of adapting himself to the team, rather than asking the team to adapt to his wishes.”
Coronel, who is making the switch to BMW after racing a SEAT in the WTCC for the past six seasons, is looking forward to the start of the season.
“In this combination, several podium results should be within reach. Admittedly, it won’t be easy, but the potential is there. Bring on the first race.”
Below you can watch a video of Coronel and ROAL testing the BMW 320 TC at Vallelunga.