Tom Coronel: „This is how it should be“

Tom Coronel brought his own unique brand of humour and enthusiasm to the TitansRX paddock in Portugal last weekend and not only did he leave a lasting impression on the series, but it left a lasting impression on him, too.

A veteran of virtually every form of circuit racing, plus the Dakar Rally, rallycross was one of the few things that Coronel hadn’t experienced before he headed to Montalegre. Over the weekend he learned from the seasoned rallycross drivers, and gained speed throughout, only narrowly missing out on a semi-final berth on Sunday.

„I like it. I like it a lot, so you guys created some trouble,“ Coronel joked. „I’m starting to become too enthusiastic, I can feel it all over.“

„The excitement for myself as a racing driver is that I have things to learn because you’re not doing just your thing, but you can see there’s areas where you can improve, especially the gravel stuff.“

The Dutchman came into the weekend with realistic expectations having never driven TitansRX’s PanteraRX6 racing car prior to opening practice on Saturday, but he said the lack of running ahead of the weekend makes him glad that he will be running the majority of the second half of the season.

„I’d been in the car for eight minutes and I had to race against people who are driving in the world championship,“ Coronel said of his first Q1 heat. „I was nervous and of course I didn’t expect to be in front, absolutely not. I was hoping to get though to the semi-finals which nearly happened on the second day, I was really close. So I see my opportunities, I understand my position and this makes me eager to come back.“

Coronel spent much of the weekend speaking with other drivers in order to learn how to tackle the unique, twisty Montalegre circuit – something TitansRX’s completely open paddock actively encourages. He even put cameras in rival drivers‘ cars so that he could study their onboard footage in his hotel room between races.

„We saw the sector times and the only part where I was losing out was the gravel sections so I asked if I could put video cameras in other drivers’ cars, they said ’no problem‘,“ he said. „I put my GoPros in there, studied it overnight, and then I could see where I could make steps. This is what you want as a driver.“

„Here everybody can walk into eachother’s tent, you can see the springs of the Hansen brothers, you can even ask what which gears they are taking,“ Coronel added. „I even asked the Hansen brothers if I could put cameras in their cars so I could study them.“

„You can see how the drivers think and it’s nice to see. Everybody has the same opportunities, the same possibilities, the same understanding. This is how it should be.“

On the whole Coronel’s maiden rallycross experience was a hugely positive one, although he did have one complaint: „If you want to know the negative things, it was just the food at lunch –  the chocolate cake was gone! [but] everything else was perfect.“

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