10 January 2011
Coronel joins ROAL, BMW for 2011 WTCC
The pairing started out with a SEAT Toledo Cupra in 2005, entered under the banner of 'SEAT Team Holland' by the GR Asia outfit, led by Briton Paul Ridgway. Third place for Coronel in the second race at Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium was the best result of the season, and the Toledo lasted a few rounds into 2006, before being replaced by a SEAT Leon from Brands Hatch. In his maiden race with the new car, running a patriotic black-and-orange livery, Coronel immediately became the best-placed privateer driver and, at the end of that season, sealed the Independents' championship title. The best season result was another third place, in the final round of the season at the Macau street circuit.
In 2007, Coronel again raced the Leon, still run by GR Asia, with fourth places at the Porto street circuit and Anderstorp in Sweden the highlights of the year, before a switch to the Spanish SUNRED team for 2008 produced a strong runners-up finish at Oschersleben and, better still, an historic maiden victory in the race at Okayama.
In 2009, Coronel was allowed to compete in the Independents' Trophy for the first time since his 2006 success - and duly won the title. The best achievement of the season was fourth place in the first race at Oschersleben, before a switch from petrol to diesel power for 2010 produced a pair of podium finishes with second place at Monza and third place in Marrakesh.
“On behalf of SEAT Netherlands, all employees and the SEAT dealer network in our country, I sincerely would like to thank Tom Coronel for the co-operation in the past years,” managing director Bram Leijten said, “With his commitment and his achievements, Tom has significantly contributed to the awareness and the sporting image of our brand in The Netherlands. Moreover, in all these years, he has given us many exciting moments when we followed him during the races, both at the track and in front of the television screens. We wish Tom all the very best for his future career.”
Coronel also looked back on the SEAT era with satisfaction.
“A really special chapter in my career is now coming to an end,” he admitted, “For me, SEAT is the brand with which I have enjoyed the longest relationship. Over the years, we have become something like a family. I really like to thank SEAT Netherlands and the entire SEAT organisation for the support I have received and the special experiences I have made. Of course, my victory in Japan in 2008 and my two Independents' championship titles in 2006 and 2009 are the memories that stand out in particular.”
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