Photo: TCR Europe

Viktor Andersson surprises to take Pau pole in TCR Europe

MA:GP’s Viktor Andersson claimed a surprise pole position in his Lynk & Co 03 TCR for the second round of the TCR Europe season in Pau.

Andersson put in the first flying lap of Q1, a 1:31.999, and improved to 1:28.642 on his next effort.

Target Competition’s Dušan Borković then went over four seconds faster, with Volcano Motorsport’s Lewis Brown slotting into second place but 1.381s slower than Borković.

Brown brought out yellow flags by hitting the tyre barriers at the Foch chicane, but was able to continue, and a few minutes later was shuffled down to third place by Comtoyou Racing’s Kobe Pauwels

Borković remained on top until the second half of the 20-minute session, as Brown’s team-mate Isaac Smith posted a 1:22.903 to go fastest by a third of a second

Andersson then knocked Borković down to third, as Smith improved his pace in first place. Pauwels returned to second with five minutes remaining, at which point team-mate Tom Coronel had still not even set a lap.

Even stranger than Coronel’s strategy was that of CDRS driver Julien Nougaret who handed his Cupra León TCR over mid-session to Dorian Duthil. The stewards gave the pair permission to make the unusual car-sharing move, but it meant they both came ineligible to score TCR Europe points.

As the track rubbered up there was lots of changes in the order in the final minutes, with Borković reclaiming top spot momentarily before Pauwls went fastest. But on Borković’s next lap he went even faster, bettering touring car rookie Pauwels by 0.124s.

Another improvement in the final minute meant he finished the session 0.168s up on Pauwels, who also improved late on, while Smith was third and Viktor Davidovski jumped up to fourth at the chequered flag.

Coronel got in his first lap in the last three-and-a-half minutes, and improved on his next two but met the chequered flag in a lowly tenth place. However with only 12 cars taking part, and one of them being shared, it meant his place in the 10-minute Q2 was guaranteed.

Smith was the early pacesetter in Q2, then Comtoyou’s cameoing Eric Cayrolle went to the top. Andersson bettered both with the fastest lap overall of qualifying, and the touring car rookie improved in the final minute to become the only driver so far this weekend to lap sub-1:22.

Borković beat Pauwels to second, 0.375s behind Andersson, with neither driver improving in the final three minutes. Volcano pair Smith and Brown were fourth and fifth, with the latter one of only two drivers to better their pace as they met the chequered flag.

The other driver to do that was Coronel, who again left it until the final three-and-a-half minutes to post a lap time and once more ended up in tenth place and 4.829s off the pace.

As the faster CDRS driver, Nougaret drove the Cupra in Q2 and he qualified ninth. Absent from qualifying was Michael Leal, who had got his Volkswagen Golf GTI TCR ready in the morning but took it to the paddock to be shown on display rather than to compete.

Race 1 starts at 18:10 local time (CEST) tonight.