Kobe Pauwels takes landmark TCR Europe win in Paul Ricard Race 2
Kobe Pauwels claimed his third points-scoring TCR Europe win of the year in Race 2 at Paul Ricard, although it was his first overall win of 2023.
At Spa-Francorchamps and the Hungaroring, Pauwels was the highest-placed driver eligible for TCR Europe points in three of the four races as the series shared a grid with the TCR World Tour.
His best result this season was actually therefore second place in Pau Race 1, making today’s success his first touring car racing win since he switched disciplines from rallycross.
Pauwels started eighth on the reversed grid, but was fourth by the opening corner as Viktor Andersson and Ruben Volt made slow starts. Levente Losonczy held on to the lead from pole until the chicane, where Viktor Davidovski got past. But he then returned the favour in the twisty final sector, and Pauwels passed Davidovski for second at the final corner.
There was drama when the top two reached turn one again as a small bit of contact sent Pauwels way off the track. He returned to the asphalt with quite a gap, but did not slow down to return the lead to Losonczy and instead raced away.
Davidovski passed Losonczy, then Nicola Baldan went past both in one move. Losonczy lost further ground with a mistake at the chicane, then he proceeded to drop to the very back of the pack with a supposed car issue.
Baldan quickly gapped himself from Davidovski, but had no answer to Pauwels’ pace, and Aurélien Comte was the first driver to try snatching third from Davidovski. He took the position into turn one on lap four, but Davidovki got back ahead at the chicane. Later in the lap Tom Coronel and Volt passed Comte, and on the next lap Coronel dived down the inside of Davidovski at the last corner.
Davidovski’s defensive work against his next chaser meant Coronel could establish himself in third and extend his points lead, and Volt got past Davidovski for fourth on lap seven of 10. Comte and Race 1 winner John Filippi got through on the same lap, and spent the rest of the race battling each other.
Filippi tried several times to get past but could not do it, and finished just 0.215 seconds behind in sixth.
There is now a two-month break before the penultimate round at Monza in September.