Tom Coronel admitted that final laps of race two of the World Touring Car Championship race weekend at Okayama had been the most important of his career after he secured his first win in the series.
The SUNRED Engineering driver had qualified down in 17th place at the Japanese circuit but battled his way through the field to finish race one in eighth place – making the most of contact between Yvan Muller and James Thompson on the final lap to secure pole for race two.
Although he lost the lead to Tiago Monteiro at the start of race two, Coronel fought back to hit the front and was then able to extend a lead having gambled on a mix of dry tyres on the front of his Leon TFSi and wets on the rear.
The lead he built proved to be key as Augusto Farfus closed in in the final stages of the race but despite the Brazilian's best efforts, Coronel held on to take his maiden WTCC win by less than a tenth of a second.
"Japan has been great for me, especially after living here for five years in the past," he said. "I love these sorts of conditions for races. I went out for the second race with wet tyres on the back and slicks on the front. They thought I was mad but I told them to trust me, and it paid off.
"I was waiting for Monteiro's tyres to go off and then took advantage. I then made a mistake, which allowed Farfus to close up behind me, and so the final two laps were the most important of my career."