Photo: TCR Europe

Coronel explains why he chose to qualify tenth in Pau

Comtoyou Racing’s Tom Coronel says he deliberately qualified tenth in Pau as part of a bigger strategy for his TCR Europe season.

The Audi RS 3 LMS II TCR driver was fastest in practice, but in qualifying, was over 4.1 seconds off the pace in both sessions and did not set any lap-times until the final three-and-a-half minutes. As it turned out, it was all part of a plan.

Coronel paused a nap – which he was having to prepare for qualifying in the Wolf Racing France series in which he is also competing in this weekend – to explain to TouringCarTimes why he had wanted to qualify down the order earlier in the day.

“It’s reversed-grid [pole], that’s one reason, and second of all I need to lose weight for Spa-Francorchamps – so it’s all to prepare for Spa,” he said while lying down with his eyes shut.

“And if you do the reversed grid, then it’s also helping me for taking points, at the same time I will lose weight for Spa as I don’t get the points for qualifying [in the top seven].

“So I give away the points for qualifying, which I’m okay with. I get them returned easily in the races.”

Starting tenth in Pau is a very different challenge to that of any other venue on the TCR Europe calendar due to the tightness of the French street circuit. This weekend’s action has also been interrupted by rain, which may lead to reduced green flag running in the races.

“Yeah but the top five is always [in reach], it doesn’t matter what you do,” he continued. “And don’t forget John Filippi [Coronel’s rival at the top of the points table] for the first race is starting P8. So it’s quite good. And with 40kg [success ballast] you can see with us that we were not going to be on pole anyway.

“It’s shit, because it’s not what you want, but I had no choice. Spa is a long track, uphill, and 40kg at Spa is more than on a normal circuit because Spa is also longer than a normal circuit. So normally it’s one tenth [lost] per 10kg, 0.2s is 20kg, 0.3s is 30kg, that’s how I’ve known this since I’m in this championship. Maybe not with new tyres, you know, but there’s consistency in this.”

Coronel had saved rain tyres from practice for qualifying, but did not end up needing to use them. However, his minimal track time meant he also saved his slicks.

“Yes, I will bring those tyres also [into the races],” he said. “So I saved tyres, I lose weight. The points I gave away here in qualifying, I will get them returned in Spa.”

Coronel’s Q2 lap was a 1:26.611, and he had been aiming for a 1:26.000 to secure tenth place. In the end it was an effective strategy, as ninth place set a 1:25.969 and Christian Philippon, the slowest driver in the field, was a few tenths of a second further back in eleventh.

Race 1 is scheduled to start at 18:10 local time (CEST).