Crash.Net WTCC News
Coronel expects more open fight
19 February 2013
Tom Coronel has said he expects a more open fight for the World Touring Car Championship title this season after Chevrolet's decision to end its works programme.
Chevrolet trio Rob Huff, Yvan Muller and Alain Menu dominated the past two seasons, winning all bar three races in 2011 and all bar four last year as Muller and Huff took the team to the championship titles.
With Chevrolet having now pulled out of the series, a more open championship battle is expected during the year ahead even if RML – the team behind the Chevrolet programme – is able to field a privateer team, with Coronel saying he no longer felt the championship would be a two-tier affair.
“For the last two years there have been two championships,” the Dutch driver, who will again drive a BMW 320 TC for ROAL Motorsport, said. “The Chevrolets contested one between themselves, while everyone else battled it out for the title of 'Best of the Rest'.
“As far as I was concerned, it was all about being the best BMW driver. That has changed now. It will definitely be an exciting season, in which anything could happen.”
Coronel failed to make it onto the top step of the podium last season, taking a best finish of second in Valencia en-route to fifth in the championship standings.
However, having re-signed with ROAL in a strong pairing alongside Darryl O'Young, the 40-year-old said he felt confident of challenging for honours during the year ahead.
“Roberto Ravaglia, the team and I have come to know each other very well,” he said. “As such, there will be no disruptions within the team. Furthermore, the BMW 320 TC has shown on more than one occasion that it is capable of competing at the very front of the field. All this means I am in my best position for years going into the season.
“My goal is to win races and finish in the top three – at least – in the Drivers' Championship. I am obviously well aware the Chevrolets will still be very quick, even without the works support. We'll also have to wait and see what the new Honda team is capable of in its first complete season.
“In 2013 I will concentrate even more intensely on the FIA WTCC, and will prepare even more meticulously for the races. Roberto will do the same thing, as we both have realised what we can achieve next season.”