Rocco Coronel raced in the French IAME Series Championship last weekend at the Circuit International Jean Brun karting circuit in Varennes-sur-Allier. The 12-year-old driver from Victory Lane had a dominant weekend and came out well even under the changing weather conditions. Because the son of Tom Coronel and Paulien Zwart also won the final race, he grabbed a coveted ticket for the IAME World Finals, which will be held at the Portuguese karting circuit of Portimão in November. Coronel scored the ticket at the same circuit where Max Verstappen crowned himself world champion in KZ1 in 2013.
"A ticket for the World Finals, I didn't expect that at all," Coronel said after the weekend. "I saw others already getting tickets for the World Finals, but I thought the juniors might not get one. And then I got one, I was overjoyed."
Coronel had therefore not traveled to the French circuit for nothing. In all sessions, the promising driver came out rock-solid. In both qualifying and the three races on Saturday, he finished in first position. Together with his coach Leon Kaan, he prepared for the semi-finals and the all-important final.
Where it was almost 30 degrees on Saturday with a clear blue sky, a gigantic shower poured down on the track during the night. In the warm-up, it took a while to find the grip, but in the semi-final, everything would be fine, or not: "I got a slight tap from behind at the start, right at the braking point, and the track was wet. My teammate was right behind me and also narrowly escaped crashing into the wall." Rocco spun and still had to save the race from behind. This he did. He fought his way to the front with his bright orange helmet and finished the race in fifteenth place.
Tom Coronel's son feared that his poor position in the semi-finals would mean he would no longer be in the lead in the points standings, but nothing could be further from the truth: "Despite finishing fifteenth, I retained my first position in the overall standings, having previously won all the qualifying heats," he says with relief. "We really didn't expect this, that I would still be on top, even after that fifteenth place and everything that had happened. In my mind I really thought 'oh no, I wasted the whole weekend', but it turned out not to be the case. Suddenly I was very happy again because so I still had the lead after all."
Then the final was on the programme, Rocco did not allow himself to be thrown off balance and rode a very solid race: "The start went a bit less well and I really had to defend a bit. I lost first place very briefly and it took me some time to regain it. But in three corners I managed to regain it because my competitor was defending, which is normal. So I overtook him at the hairpin to the left, just before the short straight and the last corner. There I grabbed the lead. Then the chasers started fighting with each other and I was able to build a big lead. I managed my tyres well and only in the last few laps did I really give full throttle. The tyres were wearing out anyway."
As Rocco drove the stars from the sky, he was the first to enter the podium. Besides a nice trophy, he also got a bottle of champagne pressed into his hands: "It was the first time I got to spray champagne. That was also very nice. I thought, 'yes, we finally did it. We just got a podium finish'."
Rocco has now secured a ticket for the World Finals in Portimão, but there is one problem: "I have never ridden in Portimão, but I do know that we will train intensively in Portugal. The goal is clear: first place. Simply become champion and take home that huge trophy." Asked if he already has a place in his room for that imposing thing, he says: "No, not yet. I have yet to find that one."
This weekend, Rocco will race in the Benelux championship at the French circuit of Ostricourt. He hasn't driven there for a while, but Rocco says he is looking forward to rediscovering the track. In addition, Rocco is happy with the progress he is making thanks to Team Victory Lane: "I am constantly learning to drive more cleanly. A lot more data is being collected than before. I'm really learning to drive smarter, to position myself and the kart better on the track, to defend and overtake. Actually, I learn a bit more every week."
Rocco Coronel thanks his parents, family and his team Victory Lane. Rocco is supported by:
Barbier Roger Laren