Long-term World Touring Car Championship independent entrant Tom Coronel is set to depart ROAL Motorsport after 7 years with the team for the inaugural year of the World Touring Car Cup, as he joins Honda factory driver Tiago Monteiro at Boutsen Ginion Racing.
The Dutchman has been a strong supporter of the introduction of the TCR rule-set, having spent the better part of the TC1-era struggling to compete against the factory-backed juggernauts, and admits that he has largely ‘made up the numbers’ in recent years as an independent.
“Of course, I have done everything to become part of this since the first signs emerged, so I am really thrilled that it has now worked out,” explains Coronel.
“Many people know that this is a development I hoped to see two years ago already. The FIA WTCR is a worthy successor of the FIA WTCC in which I participated every season, but it is fair to say that, from a sporting perspective, I was often making up the numbers in the most recent years.”
Despite claiming 2 victories and multiple podiums in TC1-machinery, Coronel and his ROAL Chevrolet Cruze could never have matched the manufacturer entries who had a comparatively overwhelming budget relative to their privateer peers.
Coronel has already proven his pace in TCR-spec cars, featuring sporadically in the TCR International Series and TCR Benelux, and claimed 3 victories for Boutsen Ginion last season alongside eventual Benelux champion Benjamin Lessennes.
“Now, we are facing a new challenge with identical equipment for everybody, at tracks all over the world and for me an excellent situation with a brand-new Honda Civic built by JAS Motorsport and run by Boutsen Ginion,” he continues.
“A car that has specially been built for this championship and that allows us to take on the other brands at a level playing field. Personally, I reckon that this could very well be the best season start of my entire career in touring car racing.”
“It certainly is the best package I have had in the last ten years. I certainly dare to predict that this year, I will be at least able to match the total number of trophies I have scored over the last five years in the FIA WTCC.”
Whilst there were rumours of ROAL Motorsport appearing on the 2018 WTCR grid with a Hyundai late last season, Coronel has confirmed that the team were not able to formalise a programme in time, ending the Italian team’s 17 year stint in the primary international touring car championship.
“For seven years, I have enjoyed a fantastic co-operation with Roberto Ravaglia’s ROAL Motorsport team. When the FIA WTCR plans came up, he soon made it clear to me that he would not be able to realise such a project in time, so after years with highs and lows, we split in a harmonious way.”
“I will certainly miss Roberto Ravaglia, Aldo Preo and Pietro, who was my engineer for seven years. And the same can be said for the best coffee in the paddock! But now, it is on for a new adventure. I can’t wait to push the throttle in my new Honda.”