*Dutchman to race privateer Chevrolet in world championship
*Continuity factor key as several components go unaltered for 2017
*More outright wins the target for highly-motivated privateer
Tom Coronel will race on in the FIA World Touring Car Championship, embarking on WTCC season number 13 in the same ROAL Motorsport Chevrolet he used to win two races outright in 2016.
Coronel, the ever-charismatic, ever-popular and ever-enterprising Dutchman, has been part of the WTCC since 2005, notching up six wins from 268 starts as well as claiming the prestigious independent title on two occasions. He joined ROAL Motorsport, the team co-owned by inaugural WTCC champion Roberto Ravaglia, in 2011 and has driven for the Italian squad ever since.
“I am really proud that I have managed to be on the grid for the upcoming WTCC season,” said Coronel, 44. “This is a nice basis for my 2017 racing campaign. Many things remain the same. The car, ROAL Motorsport with Roberto Ravaglia and Aldo Preo for the seventh year in a row, my regular crew of mechanics led by Pietro, the many loyal sponsors and the characteristic yellow, red and black livery on my car that comes with it, even my starting number remains the same. Technically, there won’t be too many changes on the car, but we all know that the world champions from the previous years will no longer be on the grid as a works team. That will certainly make the championship different. More exciting? I think so, and therefore I hope to do even better than the results I scored in 2016. The sign ‘Eat my dust’ on the rear bumper of my car remains in place and let’s hope that many opponents will get to see this in 2017.”
ROAL Team Principal Roberto Ravaglia, whose WTCC title triumph came 30 years ago this year, said: “I haven’t had such a long relationship with any other driver. As to Tom, it almost seems as if he is part of the ROAL inventory. It is a question of mutual trust and confidence. Last year, we managed to win two races, so for this year, three wins is our goal. Every year, we think that we can’t do any better, yet we manage to do so every time, hence this ambitious goal.”
François Ribeiro, Head of Eurosport Events, the WTCC promoter, said: “Tom is a big character both on-track and off it and very active on social media and sponsorship. Although he has been part of WTCC from day one, he’s never one to sit still, always trying to improve himself and his car or coming up with the latest marketing trick or online video. It’s great to have him in the WTCC and we’d like to think there are more wins to come from him and his ROAL Motorsport team.”
The 2017 WTCC season gets underway at FIA WTCC AFRIQUIA Race of Morocco in Marrakech from 7-9 April. Coronel claimed the Opening Race laurels on the semi-permanent street track last season, never cracking under pressure from world champion José María López to win at the wheel of his Chevrolet RML Cruze TC1.