With a little bit over one month to go before the FIA World Touring Car Championship season gets underway in the Brazilian city of Curitiba on March 20th, Dutch racing driver Tom Coronel is ready for the first race. Following two days of testing with the new BMW 320 TC of the Italian team ROAL Motorsport, the driver made it clear that he can hardly wait for the season to start.
“It all fits. The new 1.6 litre turbo engine has a great throttle response and provides a lot of power,” the 38-year old driver says. He is enthusiastic about the maiden test he completed with his new car at the circuit of Vallelunga near Rome. “The team is highly professional, which is making it great for a driver to work with. All in all, we have racked up 55 laps and collected a lot of data. For me, it was a good way to familiarise with the new car. The different character of the turbo engine and, of course, the rear-wheel drive, forced me to adapt my driving style. You immediate note the increase in power when the turbo is coming in. That is something we have to be a little bit careful with during the races, because it puts quite some pressure on the tyres.”
Lead by team principals and former racing drivers Roberto Ravaglia and Umberto Grano, ROAL Motorsport will be running Tom Coronel’s BMW this season. Coronel continues: “I am really impressed by my first meeting with the team. Roberto and Umberto know exactly what you are looking at as a driver and that is what they tell the team. Like this, it works fine, because it allows me to fully concentrate on finding the right set-up of the car.”
Roberto Ravaglia, who won the 1987 World Touring Car Championship title with BMW, was also quite happy with the way the test went. “It was the first test with the new car and the new driver. Therefore our priority was to establish a good understanding between Tom and the team. I think that Coronel was the best choice we could make. I know him since his maiden touring car race, back in 1991 or 1992, when we shared a BMW M3 in Pergusa. I like him, because he is a professional and very fast driver, but at the same time he is also capable of adapting himself to the team, rather than asking the team to adapt to his wishes.”
Based on this first experience, Tom Coronel is very confident for the upcoming season. “In this combination, several podium results should be within reach. Admittedly, it won’t be easy, but the potential is there. Bring on the first race,” he says with a smile.