ROAL Motorsport’s Tom Coronel admits that he feels a podium finish was “within reach” after finishing the two World Touring Car Championship races in Russia in eighth and fourth respectively.
Coronel endured his worst qualifying session of the season on Saturday, failing to make it through to Q2 for the first time in 2014. The Dutchman was visibly very disappointed after the session.
“It was really disappointing that I didn’t do any better than 13th place in qualifying,” admitted Coronel. “That is definitely not where I belong. In free practice, I was classified third and fifth and fifth or sixth position was our goal for qualifying.
“It all went wrong on my final lap – I had massive oversteer and lost valuable time, just as the others were going faster. There was no time left to improve because the session was over and I was really disappointed. It wasn’t good, but there was nothing I could do anymore.
“I knew, however, that my car was good and very consistent and with that knowledge, I started the two races. My aim was to keep damage limited as much as possible.”
In the opening race of the day Coronel finished in eighth, having enjoyed a close battle with Honda driver Norbert Michelisz during the race.
“I had a good start in the first race and moved up quite a few positions right away and after that, it was a question of clever driving and looking for opportunities. Eighth place was a good result.”
In race two the Dutchman was even higher up the order, finishing the race in fourth thanks to a last-lap mistake from Michelisz and the demise of works’ Honda drivers Gabriele Tarquini and Tiago Monteiro.
“I made another good start, gained some positions and after that I was battling with [Sébastien] Loeb and [Mehdi] Bennani,” said Coronel of the second race. “I enjoyed the battles and I was able to keep up because my car was consistent.
“In front of me, some people went off the track and dropped back and I was fourth in the closing stages of the race. A podium finish was within reach. I tried, but I fell five metres short of Bennani.
“At the end of the day, I can only be very happy with these results.”
As a result of more consistent points finishes Coronel has moved up to sixth in the driver’s championship and he heads to Spa-Francorchamps, considered to be his ‘home’ race, with his tail in the air.
“We kept damage in the drivers’ standings limited and I even moved up one position in the world championship,” added Coronel. “On top of that, we still have one fresh set of tyres left, which helps for the upcoming races. These will be held at Spa-Francorchamps in a fortnight, an event that I am considering as my home race. I expect many fans to be there and I want to show a good performance there. That is what we are focussing on and the car handles really well. I am looking forward to it and I really hope to score a podium finish there!”