Photo: TCR Europe

Kobe Pauwels wins to set up three-way TCR Europe title showdown

Kobe Pauwels led a Comtoyou Racing lockout of the top four positions in TCR Europe Race 1 at Barcelona.

It was his third win in four races and the result was a significant one for the title fight, as Pauwels reduced teammate Tom Coronel’s championship lead to eight points with just one race of the season to go and with 40 points still available to score.

Coronel finished second, 0.886s behind Pauwels, with the podium completed by John Filippi who is also in title contention and 32 points off the top of the table.

It was Coronel who started on pole, but an amazing start from Pauwels put him straight into the lead and at no point thereon did he come under attack from his team mate although he did a take defensive approach to being the leader through the first two laps.

There was more drama behind, which began with MA:GP’s Viktor Andersson making a very slow start from fifth on the grid and dropping to 11th.

On lap two Nicola Baldan passed Comtoyou teammate Lewis Brown for fourth with a great move and began to pull away from him. By lap nine Brown had fallen into the clutches of ALM Motorsport’s Ruben Volt, who from the back of the grid had got into eighth by lap two, passed Pepe Oriola a lap later and then dived down the inside of Daniel Tkachenko at turn one on lap six.

When it came to passing Brown though it all went wrong, as he took to the kerbs to try to find room to slip through and then instead hit Brown into a spin. Brown’s Audi RS 3 LMS ended up in the gravel but impressively he was able to get it turned around and back on track, which ensured yellow flags were not needed and the rest of the race could continue uninterrupted.

Volt finished fifth on-the-road, but a drive-through penalty converted into a 30-second post-race penalty for hitting Brown dropped him to 13th and last while Brown came home in 11th.

Andersson’s recovery therefore resulted in fifth place, as he followed Volt past many drivers through the race. Series returnee Pepe Oriola lost ground at first in his RC2 Racing-run Audi but eventually found a rhythm and made his way up to sixth place.

The final race of the season takes place on Sunday, and is scheduled to start at 12:20 local time (CEST).