The ROAL Motorsport BMW team has today announced it will field series veteran Tom Coronel alongside Darryl O’Young in the 2013 FIA World Touring Car Championship. The pair will compete for championship honours in the outfit’s two BMW 320TC challengers.
For Coronel, this will be his third season with the Italian outfit and his ninth successive year in the WTCC since it was re-formed in 2005.
The 40-year-old Dutchman finished fifth overall in the 2012 Drivers’ Championship standings – the best-placed BMW driver – but a long way short of the leading RML Chevrolets which dominated the field all year long.
And while Chevrolet might have withdrawn its factory backing from the championship, the steady rise of Honda and SEAT will leave Coronel with a tough challenge to become the WTCC’s first non-factory driver to win the championship.
“With ROAL Motorsport, we are aiming at top three results in the races and in the championship,” Coronel said in today’s announcement.
“We are very well used to each other within the team, the cars are perfectly prepared and after changes in the regulations, front-wheel driven cars no longer have any advantages in terms of weight. I am very confident that we can be among the front runners for this year.”
For O’Young, meanwhile, this will be the third different manufacturer for whom her has driven in the space of a little over a year. The Hong Kong driver started the 2012 season with the Special Tune Racing SEAT team, but switched to the Bamboo Engineering Chevrolet outfit before the year was out.
It will be the first time that the newly-married 32-year-old has driven rear-wheel-drive machinery in the WTCC, although he’ll no doubt be able to draw upon his years of experience in GT racing as he adapts to his new surrounds.
O’Young takes over from Alberto Cerqui, who drove the team’s second BMW but was dropped from the squad before the year was out.
“Tom is part of our family and we are pleased to welcome Darryl in the team,” ROAL team principal Roberto Ravaglia added.
“They are both experienced drivers and have proved they can compete for top positions in the WTCC. With them on board our team can aim for some important results.”
The team confirmed Coronel would once again compete for the Drivers’ Championship title, while O’Young would be in the running for the Yokohama Independent Trophy Championship crown.