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Tom Coronel knew a strong result in Portugal was possible

Tom Coronel says that he knew a strong result on the streets of Vila Real was possible, although the ROAL Motorsport racer stopped short of saying he expected to win the opening World Touring Car Championship race in Portugal.

Coronel got the luck of the draw in qualifying on Saturday to secure the reverse-grid pole position at a circuit where overtaking is notoriously difficult.

Having put his car as high as seventh in Q2, just the right number of rivals improved their time before the end of the session to leave Coronel in tenth, and in the prime position for the first race.

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“In qualifying, things were going well,” explained Coronel. “Within the team, there was quite a lot of stress, but that didn’t really affect me. I knew what I wanted and I executed my plan as I had it in mind.

“You also need a little bit of luck and that is what we had. Pole position for the first race was in the bag and that meant the best possible grid position for me.

“We knew that overtaking is difficult here and I knew the drivers around me very well, both Nicky and Tom Chilton, my team-mate from last year.”

Race one saw the Dutchman take his second win of the season, following his victory on the streets of Marrakech with another city race win.

Coronel admits that he quickly tried to learn where the Citroën C-Elysée of Chilton was at its strongest on the track to allow him to counter any potential attack.

“After Tom Chilton quickly was in second place, I watched attentively to see where he was faster and where his braking points were,” continued Coronel. “I planned out my race according to that, I pulled away wherever I could and actually, I didn’t get into trouble anywhere.

“At a certain point, I was sure that he wouldn’t be doing any crazy things. There was another race and there is hardly any time to repair damage.

“I knew that I would be able to score a good result here, but I didn’t expect to take my second WTCC race win of the season.

“This good result fits in well with the races earlier in the year. We were also on the pace at Paul Ricard, in Hungary and for instance at the Nürburgring.”

The Main Race saw some of Coronel’s luck run out, however, after he picked up a drive-through penalty for a jump start which dropped him to the back of the field, where he eventually finished a lap down.

“The second race got underway with a jump start,” added the 44-year-old. “The engine threatened to stall and I had to lift the brake pedal.

“After that, I didn’t take any risks and finished the race. I still hoped for some points, but that turned out to be difficult.

“The cars will now be shipped from Antwerp for the journey to Argentina, so I wanted to ensure that the car would be without damage, and I managed.”

Watch: Tom Coronel’s Vila Real highlights

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