Tom Coronel has voiced serious concerns that the 2013 season could be his last in the FIA World Touring Car Championship.
With the series ushering in brand new – and ultimately, costly – technical regulations next year, the Dutchman is one of a host of drivers vying for a competitive drive.
Coronel is one of many BMW drivers theoretically out of a drive as the off-season gets underway. The German carmaker ended its manufacturer support in 2009 and provided limited financial support to create a 1.6-litre turbo engine for the Super 2000 technical regulations.
But that still left its customer teams to fend for themselves, and as the competitiveness of other carmakers – most notably SEAT, Chevrolet and, more recently, Honda – improved, the BMWs’ performance suffered.
Despite some allowances in the compensation weight calculations, the 320TC racer was simply too heavy to get down to the minimum allowable base weight it was given permission to run. And with its turbo engine proving well down on power relative to its competitors, it stood little chance of competing for race wins.
In a typically forthright interview with AUTOSPORT, the veteran driver – who has raced every year since the championship was reborn in 2005 – highlighted the added complication that he doesn’t enjoy extensive commercial backing which could help fund a secure seat in a competitive car next year.
“Normally there is always a solution, but this is the first time I have that feeling in my gut that I am in the shit.
“My girlfriend tells me I say this every year, and there is always a chance – people always buy lottery tickets – but I don’t really have the budget.
Coronel’s results are among the most impressive in the series. In 201 race appearances – usually in less-than-competitive machinery – he has racked up four wins and 20 podium finishes.
With two of these wins coming this year – both being the reverse-grid races at the Slovakia Ring and Suzuke – in his BMW run by ROAL Motorsport, Coronel firmly believes that he deserves a drive on talent alone.
The Roberto Ravaglia-run ROAL Motorsport team is reportedly in the frame to secure a deal to race with the RML-designed Chevrolet Cruzes next year, but no official confirmation has been made. It is likely that the team would need driver who bring significant sponsorship in order to help cover the cost of the RML deal, if it goes ahead.
“Look at my CV, who can match it? I just need that chance; I just need a car I can win in,” he added.
“I showed the potential at the right moment, and I have to capitalise on the flow.
“But let’s wait and see. As they say, money talks, bullshit walks.”