Tom Coronel has likened his victory in the opening World Touring Car Championship race in Marrakech to that of Leicester City winning the English Premier League, after claiming his first win at the wheel of a TC1 car.
Coronel started the reverse-grid opening race from fourth on the grid, but was already up to second by the end of the opening lap, due to early race leader James Thompson being punted off by LADA’s Hugo Valente.
When valente was inevitably handed a drive-through penalty for the incident, Coronel found himself defending from the works’ Citroën duo for the remainder of the race, with the Dutchman eventually prevailing to claim his first WTCC win since 2013.
“For me, the start of the first race went well and I moved up two places right away,” said Coronel. “Then, I saw what was happening in front of me and I knew that Valente was doing something that would incur him a penalty. Thus, he disappeared into the pits and I found myself in the lead.
“I was slightly worried about the tyres, although I didn’t have anyone in front of me, so they could cool down really well. I had [José María] López behind me who made a few attempts. Braking later, tapping on the rear of my car again and again, but never over the top, because he didn’t want to risk a penalty. As a result, I was able to stay in the lead and I won the race.
“It is a fantastic result and great for the entire team, a little bit like Leicester City winning the Premier League. It’s a great success for our small team in the big field with the factory teams. It also really was a nice race, thrilling and with a fantastic result. And talking of results, things have been going pretty well all season so far.”
Coronel followed up his win in the opening race with a point-less finish in the main race, struggling in the unusually wet conditions in Morocco which contrasted with the opening race.
“The second race, however, was a drama,” added Coronel. “We had the car set up for dry conditions and that doesn’t work at all when the track is so wet. The rear was faster than the front and it was one slide after another with the rain tyres.
“I did what I could to fight for positions, but I had to back off several times. I didn’t want to crash the car, because the next race is at Nürburgring in three weeks and I want to race there, too, so I kept the damage limited.
“I scored my points and I am now looking forward to the next races. Bring it on, I am ready.”
Coronel’s victory elevates him to ninth overall in the drivers’ championship on 41 points, having taken just his fourth points finish of the season so far.