Tom Coronel says he is “in survival mode” in the World Touring Car Championship (WTCC), after the Dutchman battled to just three points from two top ten finishes at the Slovakiaring.
The ROAL Motorsport driver has finished higher than eighth on just one occasion so far in 2015, and the Dutchman did not fare any better in Slovakia. Qualifying in 15th position on Saturday, the third slowest Chevrolet driver, left him with an uphill task heading into Sunday’s races.
Coronel made up six positions to finish ninth in race one, losing out to the Honda of Tiago Monteiro at the start of the race and benefitting from a number of retirements. Forced to start from the same position for race two, Coronel finished in tenth after a challenging race with few overtakes.
“At the moment, we really are in survival mode,” admitted Coronel after the day’s races. “This was another really tough weekend, during which we didn’t manage to stay in the midfield. The front runners really are too far off, but I definitely would like to be a little bit further up the ranks in qualifying.”
Coronel admits that he is not where he wants to be, with fellow Chevrolet racer Hugo Valente able to deliver top-five ‘best of the rest’ performances in the races.
“Once again, we tried everything, but we can’t get the set-up as it should be, while the other Chevrolets do have the speed. What I am missing is traction while accelerating out of the corners and that is the reason why I am also lacking speed on the straights. On top of that, we also have 50 kilograms extra handicap weight in the car, which doesn’t make things any easier either.
“I am also happy that team-manager Roberto Ravaglia informed us this afternoon that we will be testing the day after the next round at Paul Ricard in order to improve the set-up. Now, we really have some work to do!”
Coronel admitted that the points he gained were more due to the misfortune of others rather than a charge through the field. The points gained keep him 12th overall in the drivers’ championship, 19 points adrift of 11th placed Mehdi Bennani.
“Looking back on this weekend at Slovakiaring, I am happy with the world championship points we have scored here,” added Coronel. “To be honest, it wasn’t entirely my own achievement, because the main reason we could score was the fact that others retired. But you have to be there to score at times like these and that was the case.
“Towards the end of the first race, it went pretty well and there was also some performance left in my tyres. At the end of the second race, it was an entirely different affair. I was stuck between three Hondas and I hardly had any grip.
“I left a slight gap between me and [Norbert] Michelisz and Monteiro in front of me to be able to benefit when things would go wrong between the two of them and to use some of the downforce. Like that, however, Néstor Girolami got closer and closer and I really had to work hard to defend my tenth place.
“Once again, I managed to score points and with the prospect of a test after the next races, I am looking forward to a nice second half of the season.”
Watch: Tom Coronel video highlights from the Slovakiaring races