Tom Coronel

Tom Coronel

5/4/1972

After being elected as 'Best student' of the Racing School at Zandvoort Tom drove his first season in 1990 in the Citroen AX cup.

In 1991 Tom continued racing in the Citroen AX cup alongside his elder brother Jip. After a learning year in 1990 this would be the year of success. Tom scored points in all of the 8 races. In total Tom won 4 races and scored 105 points, which was enough for the championship.

After two years in one make racing Tom decided to move on to Touringcars. He drove a BMW 320i for the Rijnhaave team. His teammate was quite familiar to him as it was his big brother Raymond. Tom scored two race wins to get a total of 102 points, which was enough to clinch the championship ahead of the Alfa Romeo of Allard Kalff and the BMW of brother Raymond.
 
He also did some Formula Ford races for the Fresh team. Despite his lack of experience he had some promising outings. Therefore Tom decided to change to singleseaters permanently.

In '93 he fully concentrated on Formula Ford. He continued with Fresh racing and drove the Dutch and Benelux championships with the brand new Vector car. He was contracted by the factory as their lead driver. In the Dutch championship Tom scored 3 victories and a total of 87 points to beat Belgian Geoffroy Horion to the title. The same Horion won the Benelux title in which Coronel finished second. Besides the Benelux and Dutch Formula Ford races, Tom also contested some races of the German series in which he scored several podium finishes.

At the Formula Ford Festival, the inaugural World Championship of the series, Tom finished 5th in the qualifying heat and 9th in the Finals.
 
Apart from Formula Ford Tom also contested the Marlboro Masters Formula 3 race at Zandvoort for Tatuus Racing. He also did a class 2 touringcar race in Italy. He raced a Bigazzi BMW 320i at Enna Pergusa. In Holland Tom had two guest-appearances for the Rover touringcar team at Zandvoort. In preparation for the 1994 season Tom drove two races of the British Formula Vauxhall Lotus winter series at Donington Park for the Foundation team.
 
In 1994 he drove for Frits van Amersfoort. In the 15 races Tom contested he scored two victories and no less than eight pole positions. Tom finished second in the Euroseries behind Marco Campos. Highlight of the season must have been the victory in the Nations Cup together with Donny Crevels. At the end of the season Tom was elected as Dutch driver of the year, which gave him some extra financial backing to move on to Formula 3 the following season.

In 1995 Coronel finished seventh in the German Formula 3 championship scoring 74 points in 16 races. He contested the championship for the famous WTS team, the same team which brought drivers like the Schumacher brothers and Jos Verstappen on to the scene. Tom drove a Dallara-Opel alongside Ralf Schumacher. Coronel also contested the Monaco, Zandvoort and Macau -clash of the titans- Formula 3 races. Unfortunately he failed to finish at Monaco and Macau. At Zandvoort he drove a strong race and finished in fifth position. 

1996 saw Tom decide to go to the Far East to do another year in F3. He was contracted as a factory driver for the TOM's team. He drove the TOM's chassis that was powered by a Toyota engine.
Tom scored one victory and 5 second places to finish third in the championship. Coronel also contested in the Monaco F3 race for Prema racing in a Dallara Fiat where he finished in 2nd position. Later in the year he contested the Macau Formula 3 races. He finished 5th in his own TOM'S car.

Tom also made a guest appearance in the DUTCH touringcar championship. He raced a Citroen ZX to victory at Zandvoort.

 Tom accepted the offer to stay for a second year at TOM's in Japan n 1997. Coronel knew he had to score in his third year in Formula 3 to keep his career going upwards. With Toyota power it was possible to do so as he proved by appearing the World's quickest Formula 3 driver. TOM'S Toyota chose to replace their sometimes difficult handling chassis for Dallara. In combination with their own strong engine the car proved to be te combination to beat. Tom outclassed everyone in the Japanese series by winning six of the seven races he entered. He could even afford to miss two rounds of the championship to contest the international Formula 3 races at Zandvoort and Macau.

In the first international Formula 3 race at Monaco Tom was heading for victory as he was leading in the tight streets of the princedom. Unfortunately Coronel was pushed out of the race by another competitor. At the second international clash, the Marlboro Masters at Zandvoort, Tom charged into the lead and won the race. The final international meeting was at Macau. Tom dominated in virtually all the practice sessions and was heading for victory when he made a small but fatal mistake in the first heat. Although he was out of a chance for outright victory Tom drove the race of his life in the second heat when he moved up from the back of the field to finish in second place.
 
After winning the Japanese Formula 3 title it was time for Tom to move on to a higher category in 1998. Coronel chose to remain in Japan and to contest the Formula Nippon series, the Japanese counterpart of the European Formula 3000 series. Also Tom contested the Japanese GT series. In both classes the Dutchman drove for the Nakajima team of former Formula 1 driver Satoru Nakajima. In Formula Nippon Tom drove a Reynard Mugen and in the GT series he shared a Honda NSX with Koji Yamanishi. As Nakajima operates as a factory team of Honda Tom could benefit from the latest developments. It was clear that Tom had a lot to learn in this new category which is a lot more powerful than the Formula 3 cars he was used to. Also the team had a lot to learn as Tom was the first foreign driver to drive for them. At the end of the year the learning process started to pay off. However Tom did not always have Lady Luck on his side. In the final race for instance he was set to score his maiden victory only to drop out of the lead with technical problems.

In the GT series things went a lot better. Tom and Koji Yamanishi often scored podium finishes and they were in with a title chance until the final race of the season. Also in that race Lady Luck was not with them as the Mobil 1 Nakjima NSX dropped out in the warm-up lap giving the title to Nissan. Despite that Tom can look back on a succesful year with a second place in the Japanese GT series and a number of strong drives in Formula Nippon.
 
In 1999 Tom continued where he left of the year before. He stayed with Nakajima Racing with whom he again competed in Formula Nippon and the Japanese GT series. For Tom the main priority was to capture the Formula Nippon title this year. From the beginning it was clear that the battle for the championship would go between reigning champion Satoshi Motoyama and Coronel. Motoyama started the defence of his title well by winning the first and the third race of the season. After that it was Coronel's turn. At his adopted home circuit in Japan, Fuji, Tom won his first Formula Nippon race. It would mark the start of a recovery drive for Coronel as also in the next race Tom performed well with a second place while Motoyama failed to score. The sixth and seventh race were also for Tom who clearly started to like the taste of victory. In the eight race Tom had a mathematical chance to clinch the title. Unfortunately he was a bit too eager on the warm-up lap causing him to start from the back and not to score any points. Fortunately for Tom Motoyama also failed to score so no dammage was done and the battle remained open. The next, one but last race at Motegi then could bring the decision. Tom had to make sure that his ten points lead in the championship would still be there at the end of the day. Motoyama, however refused to give up all too easy and was fighting for his last chance. The Japanese driver drove a strong race and took his third victory of the season. Coronel ended up in third and saw his advantage to Motoyama decrease to just four points. So all would be decided in the final race of the year at Suzuka. The race was held at the small clubcircuit where overtaking is virually impossible. The only place to move up seemed to be the first corner just after the start. Thus a decision was near for the many fans that accompanied Tom to Japan. Tom Coronel made a bad start and had too much wheelspin when he engaged second gear. Motoyama managed to get next to him, but both just did not give enough going into turn one which resulted in a big crash. A controversial, but according to many deserved, title for Coronel.

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