And now for my next trick… WTCR ace Coronel ready to roar on the Dakar


And now for my next trick… WTCR ace Coronel ready to roar on the Dakar

Tom Coronel will be back in Saudi Arabia later this month when he takes on the gruelling Dakar, the opening round of the 2023 FIA World Rally-Raid Championship.

The WTCR – FIA World Touring Car Cup race winner and 2022 WTCR Trophy runner-up will join forces with twin brother Tim for an assault on the demanding cross-country event.

For their latest Dakar adventure, the Coronels will take to The Desert Lion run under the Coronel Dakar Team banner. And for the first time, the line-up will include a second entry for Michel Kremer and Thomas de Bois.

The Desert Lion will feature a new colour scheme compared to The Beast, the name given to the brothers’ previous Dakar challenger, mainly due to the increased involvement of LKQ, a major manufacturer of car parts and accessories.

But as Tim Coronel explained, changes have been made below the surface: “We are always thinking about what we can still change and improve, that is an ongoing process, but highly enjoyable, too. This year’s rally already showed that the basis of the car is good and that there is a lot of potential. We ran as high as 16th overall, but eventually, we had to give up due to my back injury. I have been working very hard on that all year, the doctor says that I am entirely new again and even better than ever, so I am curious.”

For the fourth Dakar in Saudi Arabia, the organisers have opted for a different approach: instead of a loop race, the rally will now  from coast to coast. From the Sea Camp, an enormous bivouac some 300 kilometres north of Jeddah on the Red Sea coast where the start will be held on December 31, competitors will tackle demanding stages all the way to Damman on the Gulf coast for the finish on January 15. There will be 14 stages – up two from 2022 – and more than 5000 timed kilometres in store, which will make the upcoming Dakar the longest since 2014.

“In the past years, Saudi Arabia has surprised me with the beauty of its nature every time,” Tim Coronel said. “All the elements are there: very nice canyons, beautiful green and vast, rough parts. In the Empty Quarter, there are many soft dunes that are really huge. Three years ago, we rolled our car there, the dunes are really tricky, so we have to be very careful.”

Tom Coronel, who completed his WTCR campaign at Jeddah Corniche Circuit last month, said: “Last time we had a competitive car but, unfortunately, we were able to drive only half of the rally with it. Now, I am even more eager because of it. We have already shown that we should be able to reach something around 20th place, which is our goal and gives us that little bit of additional spirit. A little less adventure, a little more competition.”

Although Tom Coronel is the main navigator out of the two, it’s planned that he will get some time behind the wheel on the 2023 event.


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