Monday, July 26, 2021

Dakar 2021: the Netherlands siblings Tom Coronel

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Everyone knows the Netherlands as a football country. Johan Cruyff, Marco van Basten, Edwin van der Sar and many other names of famous football players, which we used to associate with this land. But if we would look at the list of motorsport stars originating from this small Western European country, we could find no less well-known sportsmen such as Tom Coronel in Dakar.

In Formula-1 the Netherlands have the Red Bull Racing driver Max Verstappen, the two-time winner Gerard de Rooy in Dakar, also Bernhard Ten Brinke, and of course, the most popular siblings Tom Coronel and his brother Tim.

If I need to tell you the best talker that I met through my 10 years of experience in sports journalism, I will say: ”Tom Coronel is the number one.”

He and his brother are the reason you should watch Dakar, even if you are not interested in the motorsport. Twins show almost everything what happens not just in bivouac, but in all stages which racers need to beat. They know how to make the toughest rally raid in the world more interesting. Sometimes you don’t need to show the best result to write your name into Dakar history. These two drivers are already in Dakar’s history and will try to prove that in the 43rd rally raid in Saudi Arabia.

With touring master shared his thoughts about upcoming Dakar rally, a special connection with his twin brother Tim and a secret how to do the best marketing.

When I had an interview with Sebastien Loeb, who is a real classic rally master, he said to change his mind from classic to rally raid is pretty difficult. But you are the touring motorsports master. How do you change your mind?

That is true. First of all, I only drove 4 times by myself and the others I was sitting next to my brother in Dakar. But I start to understand the way how to drive. We always finished the Dakar and I think this is just a mindset. You cannot drive 100 percent for 8 hours per day. That is impossible. And I can see guys in front of us fled out. Me and my brother could never do it, because then we will destroy our car. We are just not capable doing that, because we are not used to this type of stuff. We are in the survival mode and with quite reasonably high speed. That is how we approach whole Dakar. It is not our style to fled out like the guys in front. Like Sebastien, like Carlos Sainz and others.

“You cannot drive 100 percent for 8 hours per day. That is impossible.” Tom Coronel

But still it is finding a grip and a traction. It is a feeling if the car gets hurt. You know when you hit the bumps and it is painful for the car. This is something what every car driver can feel. I think many Dakar racers should concentrate more on feeling that. Many drivers in front are very tough and strong, but not all the time understand that they kill material. We just drive in the different style. Truly, we will never win the Dakar. But for sure, if we have the same material like top teams, we could finish at the 5th, 6th or 7th place. Everything depends on experience. My brother is in Dakar for 16 years, me for 8 years. So, its 22 years of experience in Dakar.

A lot of rally fans think that co-drivers can just read a transcript. And you were already your brother’s co-driver. Who do you think is a good co-driver?

I think, normal team is a driver and a co-driver. But me and Tim, we are both drivers. So, it is a different business case or Dakar style. When I am sitting next to Tim, I don’t have a steering wheel in my hands, but I feel the same like him. And of course, this is a different thing.

A real co-driver does not have the finest feeling like a grip and lift levels. This year we will switch places in every stage. We did that in the past too, but this year it will be 50/50. Last year many times I said to Tim: “You can drive today. I feel fine and enjoy everything.”

Coronel Tim and Coronel Tom (photo credit: ASO)

This year Tom Coronel will switch places with brother Tim. Do you prepare somehow special for it? Because I know that not all the time you are ready 100 percent, especially when you go through dunes.

No, no, no dunes. But it’s because I am race car driver. I do races in Nürburgring and something like that. When I go through dunes, I must feel the rhythm. I feel a little scared and it’s true.

So, is it true that a co-driver is a person who has “cold mind” and he can even control driver’s speed during the race?

One hundred percent true. Many times I was coaching Tim: “Hey, slow down. It is painful for a car. You are over-speeding.”It’s just to let him know. But there were many times when I said: “Speed up, come on. Car can do, you can do it. It is not a problem, just do it.”  If there is a tricky part, sometimes your confidence comes down. So, I also coach my mindset level of driving.

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