Tom Coronel will remain in the 2017 FIA World Touring Car Championship for a seventh consecutive season with ROAL Motorsport.
The Dutch driver has been part of the WTCC since its rebirth in 2005, claiming six race wins in 268 race starts as well as twice being crowned the Independents’ Trophy champion.
Coronel joined ROAL Motorsport, the team co-owned by the inaugural WTCC champion Roberto Ravaglia, in 2011 and has remained with the team ever since. Three seasons in the team’s BMW 320TC racer preceded a switch to a customer RML-built Chevrolet Cruze TC1.
Despite the outfit’s venerable equipment, Coronel still claimed two race wins – in Morocco and Portugal – and sensationally qualified in the top-three at the Nürburgring en route to eleventh overall in the Drivers’ Championship standings.
Coronel is the first driver on this year’s grid confirmed to drive a RML Cruze TC1 in 2017.
In keeping with his mantra to “never change a winning team”, Coronel will ran with an identical livery, sponsors and team set-up as last year.
“I am really proud that I have managed to be on the grid for the upcoming WTCC season,” said the 44-year-old.
“Many things remain the same. The car, ROAL Motorsport with Roberto Ravaglia and [engineer] Aldo Preo for the seventh year in a row, my regular crew of mechanics led by Pietro, the many loyal sponsors.
“Technically, there won’t be too many changes on the car, but we all know that the world champions from the previous years will no longer be on the grid as a works team. That will certainly make the championship different, and therefore I hope to do even better than the results I scored in 2016. The sign ‘Eat my dust’ on the rear bumper of my car remains in place and let’s hope that many opponents will get to see this in 2017.”
ROAL Motorsport team principal Roberto Ravaglia added: “I haven’t had such a long relationship with any other driver. As to Tom, it almost seems as if he is part of the ROAL inventory.
“It is a question of mutual trust and confidence. Last year, we managed to win two races, so for this year, three wins is our goal. Every year, we think that we can’t do any better, yet we manage to do so every time, hence this ambitious goal.”
Image via FIA WTCC Media