Tom Coronel scored ‘valuable points’ in the World Touring Car Championship races in China, with the Dutchman twice finishing in the points to remain in the top ten overall in the drivers’ championship.
Having qualified in 11th, and missed out on the reverse-grid Opening Race pole by a mere 0.016 seconds, Coronel would have his work cut out for the races on Sunday.
Despite experiencing a second successive qualifying session outside the top ten for the usually strong qualifier, Coronel was upbeat about his performances in a competitive field.
“Qualifying made it clear once again how exciting the FIA WTCC is,” said Coronel. “Differences are measured in thousandths of a second. And in my case, that also was the difference between first or eleventh place on the grid.”
Coronel would eventually finish seventh in an exciting Opening Race, thanks in part to the demise of two of his rivals in front halfway through the race.
The Dutchman believes that had he edged into the top ten in qualifying, and benefitted from the reverse grid, that he could have held his own in the first race of the day.
“It was really close and really annoying that it just didn’t work out, especially when looking at the results afterwards.
“[Norbert] Michelisz ended up second in the first race and I was clearly ahead of him in the second race. I could also easily keep up with [Mehdi] Bennani, who did well in race two.
“In the first race, I made sure to avoid any damage. Last year, I had a broken wheel underneath my car here. It was clear to see that everyone was eager to get up to the front and I opted to stay out of all the action. That meant that I initially lost something, but you can make up for that later on.”
In the end, Coronel started the Main Race from tenth on the grid, which is where he would finish after a relatively uneventful race, especially in comparison to the opener.
Despite the lack of progress, he believes that the points scored were particularly valuable, with the ROAL Motorsport driver being just 22 points ahead of race one winner Thed Björk, and only two races left to run.
“I was able to start the second race without any damage, which wasn’t the case for everyone. The fact is that we were again the best-placed Chevrolet here, we scored valuable points and we were on the podium.
“I was also able to get a crystal trophy – that was a first, because I never got a crystal trophy before. It turned out not to be Coronel-proof, because I already knocked an edge off.
“Finally, I would like to congratulate my regular mechanic Pietro [Speronello]. He just became the father of Mathilde and, like before, I happily and successfully worked together with Francesco here, who regularly works as a mechanic at Van Amersfoort Racing in Formula 3.
“For the rest [of the season], we will have to wait what will happen with the race in Thailand. It is almost certain that it will be cancelled, but it isn’t 100 percent sure yet.”
Watch: Tom Coronel Shanghai highlights