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Kobe Pauwels paces wet first practice in Pau

Comtoyou Racing’s Kobe Pauwels led the way in the opening free practice session for TCR Europe on the streets of Pau, as heavy rain affected the running on the barrier-lined circuit.

The wet conditions resulted in lap times which were over 15 seconds slower than last year’s WTCR pole time.

The session was originally scheduled to get underway around midday, but ended up being delayed by over two hours.

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Heavy rain then struck before the session started, causing tricky conditions for the 14-car field.

As the session progressed, the rain stopped and the track began to dry out, despite thunderstorms looming nearby.

Pauwels posted the fastest lap of 1 minute 34.368 seconds in the final minutes of the session, with Dušan Borković just under two tenths of a second behind in second.

“In Portimão, I was fastest in Free Practice 2, so I would like to make this a habit,” said Pauwels. “Before the session it started to rain and so we didn’t really know what set-up to put on it.

“I’m not completely sure but I think we went for something in between and it worked really well. I have seven or eight years of experience in Karting and that helped me in those conditions.

“I watched the onboards of Pau which the team sent me before the weekend and so I have to say I was on the cautious side. But I really like it around here; it’s a little bit bumpy, maybe like rallycross and so that’s why I like it.

“Also street circuits don’t have so much rubber down and so the tyres work really well. It all just fell into place.”

Tom Coronel was third in his Audi, a further tenth adrift, with no other drivers within a second of the pace.

Viktor Davidovski was fourth fastest in his Comtoyou Audi, with local racer Eric Cayrolle in fifth, just over two seconds off the pace.

MA:GP’s Viktor Andersson put his Lynk & Co in sixth, ahead of French duo John Filippi in seventh and Julien Nougaret in the older-generation CUPRA in eighth.

Aggressive Team Italia’s sole Hyundai of Nicola Baldan and independent Frenchman Michel Leal in his Volkswagen both did not set a time in the half-hour session.

Session results

1 22 Kobe PAUWELS Comtoyou Racing Audi RS3 LMS TCR II 14 1:34.368
2 62 Dušan BORKOVIĆ Target Competition Hyundai Elantra N TCR 15 1:34.564 0.196
3 34 Tom CORONEL Comtoyou Racing Audi RS3 LMS TCR II 11 1:34.663 0.295
4 11 Viktor DAVIDOVSKI Comtoyou Racing Audi RS3 LMS TCR II 15 1:35.402 1.034
5 64 Eric CAYROLLE Comtoyou Racing Audi RS3 LMS TCR II 15 1:36.419 2.051
6 10 Viktor ANDERSSON MA:GP Lynk & Co 03 TCR 16 1:36.523 2.155
7 27 John FILIPPI Comtoyou Racing Audi RS3 LMS TCR II 14 1:37.126 2.758
8 40 Julien NOUGARET Cap Racing by CDRS CUPRA TCR 16 1:37.152 2.784
9 23 Isaac SMITH Volcano Motorsport Audi RS3 LMS TCR II 12 1:38.126 3.758
10 39 Lewis BROWN Volcano Motorsport Audi RS3 LMS TCR II 10 1:39.401 5.033
11 17 Christian PHILIPPON Espace Racing with CDRS Audi RS3 LMS TCR 13 1:43.476 9.108
12 66 Olivier LÓPEZ Team CDRS CUPRA TCR 5 1:51.413 17.045
13 8 Nicola BALDAN Aggressive Team Italia Hyundai Elantra N TCR 0 No time N/A
14 49 Michel LEAL Team Leal Compétition Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR 0 No time N/A
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