Ruben Volt won a dramatic final race of the 2023 TCR Europe season at the Circuit de Barcelona Catalunya, with the ALM Motorsport Honda Civic Type R FL5 beating the Comtoyou Audi RS 3 LMS of John Filippi by a little over six-tenths of a second at the flag. Viktor Andersson recorded his first TCR Europe podium result by finishing third, but fourth place was more than enough to give Tom Coronel the 2023 TCR Europe Drivers’ title, completing a second successive clean sweep of the titles by the Comtoyou Racing team
The dramas began before the start, as Coronel’s closest challenger for the title, his teammate Kobe Pauwels, pulled into the pit lane at the end of the Formation Lap with a driveshaft problem. Any hopes that the team could make repairs and get the young Belgian driver out on track quickly vanished and what had been a three-way fight for the Drivers’ title had become a two-way scrap between Coronel and Filippi.
At the start, Daniel Tkachenko appeared to have jumped the lights as he rocketed past the pole-sitter Volt to lead the field into the first corner. Sure enough, Tkachenko was deemed to have jumped the start and was given a drive-through penalty for the infringement. Coronel had started from tenth on the grid but was already up to seventh place while Filippi was now fifth after starting from P8. The pair came into the race separated by 35 points and so Filippi was aware that only victory would do, with Coronel failing to score, in order to win the Championship. The pressure on Filippi increased when Coronel gained another place on the opening lap when he passed Lewis Brown for sixth position.
On Lap 2, Nicola Baldan was attacking Viktor Davidovski for P3 but ran wide, which allowed Coronel to pass for P5 behind Filippi. Lewis Brown then began to attack Baldan for sixth place. On the next lap, Filippi passed Davidovski for third, which set up a battle between Coronel and Davidovski for P4. On Lap 4, Coronel and Davidovski made contact, which sent the Macedonian driver spinning into the gravel and the Safety Car was deployed while the stranded Audi could be recovered.
Racing resumed on Lap 7 after two Safety Car laps, with Volt and Filippi both passing Tkachenko who had yet to serve his drive-through penalty. Brown, Baldan and Coronel were immediately involved in a three-way fight for P3, with Coronel hanging onto the position ahead of Brown. Baldan then lost another position when the Lynk & Co 03 of Viktor Andersson passed him for P5.
On Lap 8, Pepe Oriola passed Levente Losonczy for seventh position, although the Spaniard also received a final warning for track limit infringements. Andersson passed Brown for P4 on Lap 10, which set up two battles within the top six over the race’s closing laps; Andersson closing in on Coronel for P3 and Brown defending his fifth position from a determined Baldan.
On the race’s penultimate lap, Coronel sensibly allowed Andersson past to move into the first of the podium places, well aware that he had a comfortable points advantage over Filippi. Then on the final lap, Baldan passed Brown after the British driver ran wide, which meant that Baldan moved up into fifth place in the race’s dying moments.
Volt took his second victory of the year ahead of Filippi and Andersson, but Coronel’s fourth place was more than enough to secure his first TCR title. Comtoyou Racing had already won the Teams’ title, with Pauwels having won the Rookies’ crown with Coronel victorious in the Diamond Trophy, repeating the clean sweep of all four TCR Europe titles scored by the team in 2022.
The final Drivers’ Championship standings see Tom Coronel finish 27 points clear of John Filippi, who overtook Kobe Pauwels in the points table thanks to the latter’s DNF. Viktor Andersson finished on the same points tally as Lewis Brown but is classified fifth in the standings behind Viktor Davidovski thanks to that podium finish.
Race 2 result
1. Ruben Volt (ALM Motorsport, Honda Civic Type R FL5) 14 laps
2. John Filipp (Comtoyou, Audi RS 3 LMS) +0.605
3. Viktor Andersson (MA:GP, Lynk & Co 03) +4.019
4. Tom Coronel (Comtoyou Racing, Audi RS 3 LMS) +4.810
5. Nicola Baldan (Comtoyou, Audi RS 3 LMS) +6.623
TCR Europe Drivers’ Championship points
1. Tom Coronel 468pts; 2. John Filippi 441pts; 3. Kobe Pauwels 433pts; 4. Viktor Davidovski 266pts; 5. Viktor Andersson 247pts.