Tom Coronel admitted that he had expected Josh Files to challenge him for victory in the opening TCR Europe race at Circuit Paul Ricard, and that he was ultimately surprised when the challenge didn’t materialise.
Comtoyou Racing’s Coronel shared the front row of the grid with Felice Jelmini at the start, but the Dutchman had expected a stronger challenge to come from the Hyundai of Files, starting from third.
When the lights went out, Files made a poor start and dropped back to eighth, meaning that for the first lap Jelmini was Coronel’s closest challenger.
On lap two, Coronel’s team-mate Franco Girolami moved into second, but by this stage Coronel had a two-second lead and the Argentine couldn’t get close enough to Coronel to challenge him for the win.
“That wasn’t a bad day’s work,” said Coronel. “I put four new tyres on the car so I knew the key was the first three or four laps to open up a gap.
“In the first corner I was a little bit confused because I was looking for [Josh] Files; I saw Jelmini behind me and so I thought there was something strange going on.
“I was wondering ‘where is he’ to myself, then on the radio they said he stalled at the start and that was a pity because I thought that was going to be a tough one.
“I had a very good feeling with the car and it’s always good if you get an output after all the input!”
Coronel has moved up to second in the drivers’ standings with his win, ten points behind series leader Girolami ahead of Sunday’s second race.