Boutsen Ginion Racing’s Tom Coronel believes he had victory in race two of TCR Europe at the Red Bull Ring “in the pocket” before he was given a drive-through penalty which distracted him in the final laps.
After qualifying tenth for race one he failed to finish following contact with Mat’o Homola which resulted in a broken steering column, and then lined up on reverse-grid pole for the second contest.
He led the majority of the race including two safety car restarts but was handed a mid-race drive-through penalty as his team had been working on the car on the grid after the five-minute board was displayed.
With rain falling heavily in the final laps, Coronel was told the team was “discussing” the penalty so he opted to stay out and finished third on the road, eventually being classified 18th after a 30-second time penalty was applied.
“It’s easy – we should have won this one. This one was mine. It was in the pocket,” Coronel told TouringCars.Net.
“It has always been in the pocket, always. A little bit of rain made it a little bit difficult but then I started to talk the last three laps discussing the drive-through.
“Maybe this cost me a little bit of energy but I was in control.
“I said I was going to bring a trophy home, but I didn’t. But I know it’s coming, in WTCR it’s coming and here it’s coming. Every time I’m there something just gets in the way.”
Coronel continued to say he was confused why he had received a penalty during the race, and had felt “everything was under control” until that point.
“I was very strong, I had a good start and took a lead of two seconds,” he said.
“Then the safety car came out, and after the restart I led with two seconds, and then the same after the next safety car.
“In my opinion everything was under control and it was quite easy. Then three laps from the end I saw the drive-through penalty, so I asked the team, ‘What is this for? Is it because of my big slide in the first corner?!’
“I didn’t do anything wrong. The team just told me they were discussing it, so to be honest I didn’t know what was going on. I didn’t know anything.
“Apparently they said it was for the mechanics still touching the car after the five-minute signal was there which I didn’t know, so that was it.”
Despite staying out and retaining the lead, Coronel was then overtaken by the Hyundai duo of eventual winner Luca Engstler and erstwhile leader Luca Filippi, who tangled on the final lap to decide the race.
Coronel admitted the Hyundais had superior mechanical grip at that point in the contest with the variable mixed conditions.
“On the last lap I was a little bit too cautious, but also I could see that the mechnical grip of the Hyundais was much stronger, because here it was dry but there it was completely wet.”