ROAL Motorsport’s Tom Coronel says he is already working on plans to return to the World Touring Car Championship (WTCC) again in 2016, despite ending the 2015 season with another problematic pair of races.
Coronel already plans to come back in 2016, having ended his 2015 season with a pair of pointless races in Qatar.
The Dutchman once again fell victim to bad luck when he was unable to take up his front row grid position in race two due to an oil leak, instead starting from the pitlane and finishing in 12th having fought his way through the pack.
Nevertheless, Coronel and team-mate Chilton ensured that ROAL Motorsport scooped the Independent Team’s title, securing €38,000 and a ‘free entry’ for the 2016 season.
“It is simple, what more is there to say,” said a frustrated Coronel in Losail. “Now, it is up to me to get things in place for 2016. I want to race in the WTCC again, because I am a genuine WTCC driver.
“This season hasn’t been one of my best, although I regularly finished in the top ten. I can do better, though. I know that and I want to prove it.
“Prior to the season, I had predicted two to three podium finishes, but I only managed to do it once by finishing second in Hungary. At Vila Real in Portugal, I also had chances of finishing on the podium, but Ma [Qing Hua] got in my way during qualifying.
“In Qatar, I also had good chances of claiming my ‘moment of fame’. After all, for the second race, I would have been on one of the best grid positions…”
Having finished just outside the points in 11th in race one, attention for Coronel and ROAL turned to race two. However the Chevrolet driver soon realised that a problem first identified on his way to the grid for race one was an oil leak, which scuppered his hopes of starting on the front row of the grid for the season finale.
“I already heard some strange noises in the car on my way to the grid for race one,” explained Coronel. “I didn’t know what it was, but I felt that I was sliding in the first few corners already. I called over the radio: ‘This isn’t my car’.
“It turned out that oil was leaking onto my tyres, but I didn’t know it at the time. I didn’t head into the pits, because I was able to keep up with the rest of the field quite nicely. I had lost some positions, but I managed to keep [Rob] Huff and his LADA at bay behind me.
“Also, I had to keep going on because of the points for the teams’ championship. Unfortunately, during the repair break in between the two races, there turned out to be a leak in the oil cooler that had to be repaired. That took so much time that the pit window was closed and I had to start from the pitlane.”
Having been relegated to the back, Coronel then enjoyed a race-long battle with Qatari local Nasser Al-Attiyah, who eventually finished ahead of.
“I was stuck behind Dakar winner and local hero Nasser Al-Attiyah, who contested his first WTCC races as a guest driver. I was right behind him, but I just didn’t manage to find a way past.
“I thought ‘I don’t want that rally driver to finish ahead of me’, so I kept on pushing until he made mistake that forced him to get off track. As a result, Nasser was able to show in which discipline he is a star: rally driving. That was fun.”