Photo: Ida Wood

Kobe Pauwels fastest in first Pau practice for TCR Europe runners

Comtoyou Racing’s Kobe Pauwels was the surprise pacesetter in TCR Europe’s first practice session in Pau.

Pauwels, a touring car racing rookie and like most of the field a newcomer to the French street circuit, set the pace by 0.196 seconds over Target Competition’s Dušan Borković.

A two-hour delay at the very start of the day meant practice took place far later into the afternoon than initially planned, and once the cars were in the assembly area the session was pushed back further as a heavy rain shower accompanied by a hailstorm hit the track.

It had dissipated by the time session did start, with the track now wet again after drying out from overnight rain, and Pauwels was first to set a lap.

It was Borković who was quicker to get near a representative pace, although he had an off at the first braking zone of the lap, and the way ten minutes into the half-hour session.

At this point there was several drivers still yet to even set a lap, including Pauwels’ team-mate Tom Coronel who only needed two tours of the track before setting a 1:36.120 to set the pace by 0.795s.

Borković cut his deficit to 0.471s, before being bettered by Pauwels who got within 0.211s of his team-mate. Coronel and Borković then pitted, and other drivers made use of the drying track.

Viktor Davidovski put his Comtoyou-run Audi RS 3 LMS II into first place by 0.614s, and once Coronel returned to track he got within 0.327s of him.

Another improvement on his next lap brought the gap down to 0.185s, with Borković then joining them in lapping sub-1:36 with nine minutes of the session left to go.

Soon after Pauwels and Coronel went one-two, with both jumping into sub-1:35 territory. Pauwels’ 1:34.368 would go unbeaten in the final eight minutes, while Borković returned to second place with five minutes to go.

Davidovski improved in fourth but was over a second slower than Pauwels, and the majority of the drivers either pitted or failed to improve their pace in the closing minutes.

Lewis Brown (Volcano Motorsport) had an off and Olivier Lopez (CDRS) hit the tyre barriers at the Poeymirau descent but was able to rejoin, but there was otherwise little drama despite the slippery conditions.

Due to the delays, second practice is scheduled to start at 17:57 local time (CEST).