The man who has the words “Eat My Dust” emblazoned on the back of his race car and on his brightly-coloured race helmet, Holland’s Tom Coronel, won this season’s prestigious BMW Sports Trophy, which saw him pick up 30,000 Euros for his efforts in the WTCC this year for being named the top privateer BMW driver ahead of fellow racers Stefano d’Aste and Mehdi Bennani.
Coronel, who competed in the outgoing 320TC with Roal Motorsport, picked up two wins in this season’s campaign, with the Italian team also picking the Team Competition top honours in the process. The Dutch driver also received a reward of a test behind the wheel of the championship-winning BMW M3 DTM in Jerez, which he took the other Sunday.
Motorsport Director, Jens Marquardt presented the trophies along with Alessandro Zanardi, to both Coronel and former DTM Champion, Roberto Ravaglia, Roal’s team principal, who has made nearly thirty appearance at the annual prize-giving. The former Toyota F1 boss praised the Dutch driver’s efforts and congratulated him on a job well done: “He has been a popular and successful member of the BMW family for some years now and has impressed in the World Touring Car Championship with consistently good performances. He has certainly more than earned the winner’s trophy, prize money and his laps in the BMW M3 DTM.”
The Italian former racer, who also has a squad in the Italian GT series, said that the award for the inaugural Team Competition didn’t just belong to the team, but also the drivers, which included female racer Michela Cerruti, who also competed in the FIA Formula 3 European Championship this season: “That’s my 29th visit at BMW Motorsport’s season ending party, and I’m very proud of being here as Team Principal and receiving this award.”
The total prize money of 250,000 Euros was split between the top 25 drivers, which also included eBay Motors’ Colin Turkington amongst those rated highly this season, with Coronel clearly having the enthusiasm of a kid in a candy store when it came to getting behind the wheel of the M3 DTM, which is now a part of BMW’s illustrious history.
“It was a great experience – and a very special one. After so many years in the World Touring Car Championship, I was particularly pleased to be back in a car with so much downforce,” said the 41-year-old, who compared it to the same feeling he had back when he was competing in Formula Nippon, Formula 3 and Le Mans. “You can really push racing cars like that to the very limit – particularly in quick corners. This challenge is far greater in a DTM car than in other cars.”
He said it was a “great feeling” to be classed as the most successful privateer this season, but was finally happy that success led to well-deserved recognition: “I have been driving for BMW for a long time now, and am obviously delighted that my performances have been recognized. To be the best among so many fantastic drivers in the BMW Sports Trophy is by no means something you take for granted.”
With the fact that the 320TC is no longer a valid proposition within the realms of the WTCC for 2014, as the technical regulations have outdated the car, which has won championships under the control of three-time WTCC Champion Andy Priaulx, which now goes into an enforced retirement. But with change, new opportunities come to the surface, with Coronel himself not yet sure where he may end up next year. Let us all hope the proud BMW family finds him somewhere that he can call home sometime soon…