Tom Coronel has confirmed he will be back on the World Touring Car Championship grid in 2009 after re-signing for the SUNRED team.
Destined to be his fifth season in the WTCC, Coronel will continue to drive a petrol-fuelled SEAT Leon TFSI in the manufacturer class after striking a deal with Dutch importers Pon Car.
One of the most popular characters on the grid, Coronel admits he has been working hard on an agreement for the new season since his breakthrough maiden WTCC victory at Okayama last year.
While he confirmed it wasn't financially possible trade up to a Leon TDI for 2009, Coronel is confident he has a package that will see him capable of challenging for points on a regular basis.
"It is great to compete in a World Championship,” he said. “I am proud that we managed to finalize it all despite the difficult financial situation we are in these days. It did not go all that easy though. At first we wanted to make the deal right after the race weekend in Japan. When I won that race I thought 'OK that's it we are there for 2009', but it was not the case.
“Then our next deadline was Macau, but also then no deal could be made. Then it would be December, January and nearly February, but fortunately now we have our package finalized for 2009. Even during the Dakar Rally I could hardly stop looking at my phone just to see if there were any new developments. But at least now I can say that I am a real SEAT man and I will continue to be a SEAT man in 2009!
“I would like to thank all people involved from SEAT importer PON group for their hard work behind the scenes to make it all happen. From an international point of view we are a relatively small party, but we still manage to be there and compete on the highest level of touring car racing.
“More importantly, we proved with our successes last year that we can be successful as well so we are not just making up the numbers.”
Coronel, an Independents' Trophy champion in 2006 with GR Asia, joined SUNRED last season to claim 14th in the overall standings.