On a rainy day at Monza’s Autodromo Nazionale, Tom Coronel and Kobe Pauwels posted the fastest laps in the two Free Practice sessions of TCR Europe.
FP1 – The track was wet and slippery when the session started. Coronel set the first significant time of 2:15.096 and soon improved to 2:13.693. During the first half of the 30-minute session the rest of the field remained more than two seconds off Coronel’s mark, then Viktor Davidovski posted a provisional second fastest lap of 2:15.560, still 1.8 seconds behind the leader.
The Macedonian driver was soon outpaced by a blast of improvements, with Pauwels moving on top with a lap of 2:13.113. Behind him were Nicola Baldan (2:13.231), Coronel (2:13.429), Lewis Brown (2:13.691), Viktor Andersson (2:13.936) and John Filippi (2:13.995). During the final moments the racing lines began to dry and most of the drivers improved again reshuffling the order. Coronel chose the right moment to retake the first position with a lap of 2:12.657 and Davidovski moved into second (2:12.814) demoting Pauwels (2:13.077) to third, with Brown fourth (2:13.128) ahead of Baldan (2:13.231) and Filippi (2:13.236) who completed a sextet of Audi cars on top. Andersson’s Lynk & Co was the best of the rest in seventh position (2:13.459). Several drivers had lap times disallowed following track limit infringements, but the only one who had his fastest lap deleted was Ruben Volt, whose 2:12.433 was even faster than Coronel’s best, instead the young Estonian ranked ninth with 2:13.959.
FP2 – Weather conditions remained the same for the second session, with the track damp after a shower. Felice Jelmini set the first mark at 2:15.972, but Volt (2:14.976), Baldan (2:14.785) and Pauwels (2:14.956) moved ahead; Baldan and Pauwels immediately improved to 2:14.511 and 2:14.283 respectively. Another improvement from Pauwels saw him completing a new fastest lap in 2:14.146. With ten minutes on the clock, Jelmini moved into second with a lap of 2:14.444 just before Baldan jumped on top of the timesheet with a lap of 2:13.858 that he then polished further cutting 28 thousandths. Jelmini too went faster (2:14.194), but not quite to steal P3 from Pauwels. Then it was Davidovski who set a new mark of 2:13.579 with three minutes to go, just before Jelmini did better in 2:13.373. Though Pauwels had the last word, posting a lap of 2:13.241 that was the fastest for good. Coronel sat in the pits for most of the time, without posting a competitive lap until the very end when he moved up to seventh. Audi cars filled the top four places, with Pauwels, Jelmini, Davidovski and Baldan; Volt’s Honda (2:14.044) and Levente Losonczy’s Hyundai (2:14.727) followed in fifth and sixth.
Action will resume with the Qualifying session, tomorrow at 12:00 CEST.
Picture: TCR Europe