Tom Coronel has elected to compete in this weekend’s FIA World Touring Car Cup races at Vila Real, meaning his seat in TCR Europe this weekend will temporarily be taken over by Stian Paulsen.
Although Coronel is a title contender in TCR Europe, he has elected to race on the streets of Vila Rela in Portugal in the WTCR event.
Due to the calendar clash, Coronel can only take part in the one event this weekend, even though in the past he has tried to do both races in TCR Europe and WTCR when they have fallen on the same weekend, such as when the TCR Europe Barcelona finale last year clashed with WTCR at Most.
The decision to miss the TCR Europe races at the Norisring will boost Comtoyou Racing team-mate Franco Girolami’s title chances even more – Coronel was second in the drivers’ standings, 31 points behind Girolami, but the next closest contender is Klim Gavrilov in third, 52 points from the top of the table.
Coronel’s car will still race though, with the Dutchman entrusting Norwegian racer Stian Paulsen to take over on the streets of Germany.
Paulsen last raced a TCR car in 2019 in TCR Europe, and he scored a second-place finish in the series in 2018 at the Hungaroring when racing a SEAT for his own team.
“After consultation with my partners, I decided to opt for Vila Real, but I have found a good replacement for Norisring as well,” said Coronel. “Norwegian Stian Paulsen will be racing my Audi in Nuremberg.
“I won [at Vila Real] in the World Touring Car Championship back in 2016, a fantastic success, but then, one year later, I had this bizarre incident when my brakes didn’t work and I crashed into that fire truck that was parked there.
“That video went viral on YouTube. And believe me: people know me in Vila Real, and in the whole of Portugal, especially because of that incident. Thankfully, nobody got hurt and we had a good laugh about it afterwards.
“In 2018, there was this massive pile-up with multiple cars where I was lucky to be able to stop just in time. Vila Real is always something special and I am looking forward to going back there.
“Of course, I have looked into possibilities to combine the two events at Vila Real and Norisring. I have done it often enough in the past, racing in two events at the same weekend, but this time, it was impossible because the two are too far away from each other.
“And in such cases, the world cup is the most important one for me and also for my partners, DHL in particular, with many corporate guests coming to Vila Real. I will be doing the VIP laps again as usual, too.
“For the last two years, Stian has been sending me messages prior to every race weekend to ask whether I had contracted Covid and saying that he was ready to step in for me if needed.
“He sometimes even wrote to say that I was looking ill on my videos or Instagram! So I ended up promising that he was the first I would call whenever an opportunity should come up, which is now the case.
“He is a good guy. He is fast, he is fun and he is a safe pair of hands behind the wheel. I have a lot of respect for the way he has been running his own car, doing it all by himself. I will keep an eye on what he is doing at Norisring, of course!”
Paulsen is looking forward to taking part in his first races in more than two years.
“I haven’t raced for two years, so I am really keen to make my comeback,” said Paulsen, 34. “Indeed, I have been stalking Tom to become his replacement driver and it worked out in the end.
“Perhaps, Norisring is not the easiest track for my comeback. My main worry is not to crash the car, but that can happen easily at the street circuit, of course.
“I did three laps with the Audi at Spa in the rain, that’s my only experience with the car so far, but I know the team is good and the car is good, so now it is all up to me!
“I know the Norisring from racing in German one-make series, the circuit is not the most difficult. The only thing to find out is how close you can get to the wall… And events there are always special with a massive crowd, so I am looking forward to it!”