Tom Coronel experienced an “up and down affair” during the World Touring Car Championship (WTCC) races in Japan, with the Dutchman salvaging a single points finish from the weekend.
Not only had Coronel twice previously won in Japan in the WTCC, but he also spent four years racing in Japan in the late 1990s.
Unfortunately for the ROAL Motorsport driver he was unable to replicate his success at the Twin Ring Motegi, qualifying down in 15th position to make both races an uphill struggle.
“In terms of results, it was an up-and-down affair this time,” said Coronel. “We were on the pace in free practice, as my fifth-fastest time reflects, but in qualifying I didn’t have enough time.
“On the second run, I made a mistake myself, after which the time wasn’t good and we needed more time in the pits. As a result, I wasn’t able to start a third run and I also missed out on the top 12 qualifying. So, I was 15th on the grid and hoped for the best.”
Coronel started 13th, benefitting from penalties for Tiago Monteiro and Nicky Catsburg, but was running outside the points when on lap four he suffered a brake failure on his ROAL Motorsport Chevrolet – ironically something which also befell team-mate Tom Chilton just one lap later at the same corner.
“Due to issues for other drivers, I started from 13th place and had a relatively good start,” explained Coronel of race one. “I soon felt that there were problems with the brakes. They got way too hot.
“Once, the pedal even was all the way down on the floor and the car didn’t slow down at all. To prevent hitting the tyre stacks with the front of the car, I spun the car in the gravel trap and got some damage to the rear.”
Coronel’s mechanics were able to repair the car for race two, in which he finished seventh behind Chilton, having started down in 15th position.
“In the second race, I had a very poor start, but then, I was still able to overtake some drivers. Once again, the brakes degraded really quickly. As a result, I started driving alongside others, rather than staying behind them, to get as much cooling air as possible.
“Eventually, I was classified seventh and that is a good result, given the situation. I was on the pace in the second race, but I had to look after my brakes.”
Despite the results, Coronel remained impressed with the enthusiasm of the Japanese crowd at a race which he effectively treats as his “home” race.
“Once again, it was absolutely crazy here in Japan. It always remains special to see how many fans I still have here. That means signing autographs, having photographs taken, shaking hands, and giving interviews and so on. I am still impressed.”
Watch: Tom Coronel video highlights from Japan