It was a case of ‘pleasure but not points’ for Tom Coronel in the World Touring Car Championship races in Japan, as the ROAL Motorsport driver endured a point-less weekend.
Coronel was on the back foot for most of the weekend, when an engine change prior to qualifying was required. That gave him a grid penalty which was to see him start the Opening Race from the back of the grid, irrespective of where he qualified.
In the end, a loose intercooler hose left Coronel down on power in qualifying with the new unit, and he would start last for both races anyway, having been more than two seconds slower than his nearest rival.
“The brakes didn’t work and I shifted down, but that meant I over-revved the engine and that was the end of that engine,” explained Coronel about the incident which necessitated the engine change. “The team did a fantastic job in changing the engine within two hours.
“Qualifying was thus actually the shakedown, the first time for us to use the new engine. Unfortunately, the hose of the intercooler wasn’t properly attached, so I had a considerable lack of engine power.”
Whilst Coronel was involved in some fierce battles just outside the top ten in both races, he failed to break into the points as there was a low rate of attrition in both contests.
After the Opening Race, Coronel was then hit with a post-race 30-second penalty for not having all four wheels on the grid at the correct time. It meant that he was classified in 17th overall.
“At this circuit, overtaking isn’t really easy, but I still had some nice battles,” continued Coronel. “I was stuck behind Japanese Honda driver Ryo Michigami for a long time and I ended up behind him, crossing the finish line in twelfth place.”
A race-long battle with the LADA of Hugo Valente in the Main Race also failed to bring Coronel any points, but he remained positive about racing in Japan, a country which is particularly special to Coronel.
“Once again, I had a few nice battles which I really enjoyed. This time, I managed to find a way past Michigami and I had an intense fight with Hugo Valente, as it is the case with him so often. I enjoyed the racing, but unfortunately, it didn’t bring me any points.
“Prior to this weekend, we knew that the Chevrolets would be having a hard time here and that showed, because in the races no Chevrolet made it into the top ten.
“I have had plenty of pleasure, but, unfortunately, I haven’t been able to score any points. But the experience of being back to race in Japan, the nation that I still consider as my second home country, was even more important.
“This country remains fascinating and it is fantastic to see what people still know about me, because I raced there for many years. I am asked for all the activities: autograph sessions, official functions, and then the fans show up with photos, autograph cards, scale model cars, it’s fantastic!
“I almost got a flight case full of presents, it is incredible to see how enthusiastic the people still are, even after so many years. That makes racing here always so nice. It is a very emotional affair and a fond memory for me to take home.”