Tom Coronel felt ‘really comfortable’ with his performances in the opening round of the FIA World Touring Car Cup in Morocco, where the Comtoyou Racing driver twice finishes in the points on Sunday.
Coronel qualified in 19th as the slowest CUPRA driver on Saturday, before he was hit in race one and made contact with the wall early in the race, forcing him into a retirement.
Sunday allowed a complete for Coronel, and in the second qualifying session of the weekend he put his CUPRA in 16th on the grid for both races, out-performing two of his stable-mates.
Both races then saw the Dutchman take home points with 14th place finishes, despite enduring two sideways moments in the early stages of both races when he was hit by rivals.
After his first weekend in the new car, Coronel was pleased with his performances, especially considering the talent on the grid for this year’s WTCR.
“Once thing that became clear this weekend is that the differences between the drivers are even smaller than last year,” said Coronel. “In qualifying, it is now about tenths and sometimes even hundredths of a second.
“We are doing well, co-operation with the team is working fine and I am getting a better and better feeling with the CUPRA.
“A point where I can still improve a bit is getting the maximum out of the tyres when they are at their peak. Left-foot braking is going nicely, and I was able to manage the brakes here very well. At a street circuit like this, brakes really are essential.
“I also have the impression that I can gain a little bit more at the start as well, so I still have some challenges for the next round.
“This really is a super competition with top-level drivers in which I am feeling really comfortable.
“I did have some bad luck in the first race after [Mehdi] Bennani hit me 500 metres into the race and I ended up in the wall. Fortunately, damage wasn’t too bad, but my race was over.
“In the other two races on Sunday, I had a moment on several occasions, but I managed to keep the car in control, and I was able to continue.
“In the final race, Rob Huff hit the rear bumper of my car several times, but he couldn’t get past. At the end of the third race, I also benefited from others making mistakes.”
Coronel, who turned 47 on the Friday before the event, is hoping he can make further progress in the next round by improving his one-lap pace.
“Two point-scoring finishes is nice as well, but next time, I want to be further up in qualifying. We can do that, and it is up to me to actually make it happen.
“I am looking forward to the races in Hungary.”