Sunshine and a drying track saw a battle between Tom Coronel’s Comtoyou Racing Audi RS 3 LMS and the MA:GP Lynk & Co 03 of Viktor Andersson to set the fastest time in Free Practice 2 in Pau. In the end, it was the veteran Dutch driver who used his extensive experience of the French street circuit to just edge out the young Swede, with Kobe Pauwels, who’d been quickest in FP1, setting the third fastest time of the thirty-minute session.
The first flying laps came from Isaac Smith and Eric Cayrolle, who set times of 1:40.843 and 1:40.978 respectively, with Smith’s Volcano Motorsport teammate Lewis Brown in P3 with a lap of 1:41.241 and Dušan Borković P4 (1:41.746). Smith then improved his time twice on successive laps with a 1:38.012 and then a 1:32.367 while Borković went P2 with a 1:32.447 and Viktor Andersson went third fastest (1:38.670).
Around a third of the way through the session, Kobe Pauwels briefly took P3 from Andersson with a lap of 1:35.720 before the Swedish driver hit back with a 1:34.988. Pauwels then improved his time to reclaim third with a 1:32.554 before Andersson set a lap time of 1:31.474 to go fastest. It wouldn’t last, however, and the Audi cars of Tom Coronel (1:29.657), Pauwels (1:30.946) and Cayrolle (1:30.698) all went quicker than the Lynk & Co. Andersson then improved with a 1:31.474 but he remained in P4 ahead of Smith and Borković.
The changeable weather continued to play a part in proceedings, with late afternoon sunshine helping to dry the track surface. Coronel (1:26.968) and Cayrolle (1:28.819) both improved, as did Borković who set a 1:30.234 to leap into P3 behind the pair. John Filippi also improved with a 1:32.008 that saw him climb to P7 before going P3 with a 1:29.936. Within seconds, however, Smith replaced him with a lap of 1:29.310 and then Andersson edged past them both with a 1:29.285.
Going into the last ten minutes, Pauwels went second fastest with a time of 1:27.708 but then Andersson once again set the quickest lap with a 1:26.650 and then Cayrolle went P2 (1:26.944). Pauwels struck back on his next lap with a time of 1:26.540 and Cayrolle (1:26.025), Coronel (1:25.047) and Borković (1:25.205) all improved their best lap times.
With a little over five minutes remaining, Andersson once again went fastest with a 1:24.211 before Coronel hit back with a lap of 1:23.849. Andersson improved on his next lap with a 1:23.854 but it wasn’t quite enough to beat Coronel. Filippi went P5 with a lap of 1:26.432 before Pauwels set a 1:25.749 to retake the position. Coronel then set his best lap of the entire session (1:23.259) with around two minutes remaining. Cayrolle had also improved his best lap (1:25.619) and was in P4 ahead of Pauwels with Smith improving (1:26.182) in P6. Pauwels then went P3 with a 1:24.727 just before the chequered flag was waved.
Despite both Coronel and Andersson coming out of the pits in the session’s final moments, neither was able to complete a flying lap before the flag beat them and so it was Coronel who set the fastest time in FP2 ahead of Andersson, Pauwels, Borković and Cayrolle. Christian Philippon didn’t manage to record a time during the session while Olivier López was eleventh fastest.
Ahead of the session – like FP1, delayed by around two hours – the Stewards revealed that the Volkswagen Golf GTI of Michel Leal was deemed to not be in conformity with the technical regulations and so will not take part in the event. They also allowed Julien Nougaret and Dorian Duthil to share the driving duties in the CUPRA they use in the French Championship. Nougaret took part in FP1 and will drive in Race 1 while Duthil would do the same in FP2 and Race 2. As a result of the decision, neither driver will be eligible to score TCR Europe points.
Tom Coronel (fastest): “The team told me that I was in a good swing; I believe all the time we were towards the top of the list and a few times Andersson was also there. In the end, I just put some fresh tyres on the front and the time was there. It was good grip, good balance with the car and very good traction, which is not normal for my car so I was surprised but very happy with that. Of course, I know this track very well – I think I’ve been here more than any other TCR driver since I was here for the WTCC and WTCR and now TCR Europe. I think it’s also a big advantage that I like street circuits, especially like this in mixed conditions. But you know that this is the kind of track where if you make one mistake you have a handicap for the rest of your weekend, so the speed is there and the focus now is not to make any mistakes.”
1. Tom Coronel (Comtoyou Racing, Audi RS 3 LMS) 1:23.259
2. Viktor Andersson (MA:GP, Lynk & Co 03 FL) 1:23.854
3. Kobe Pauwels (Comtoyou Racing, Audi RS 3 LMS)) 1:24.727
4. Dušan Borković (Target Competition, Hyundai Elantra N) 1:24.870
5. Eric Cayrolle (Comtoyou Racing, Audi RS 3 LMS) 1:25.271
Qualifying is scheduled to start at 11.29 local time tomorrow morning with Race 1 at 18.10. Race 2 is then scheduled for 14.22 on Sunday. Both races will be streamed live on tcr-series.tv and the TCR TV app.