The fastest time in Free Practice 2 at the Circuit Paul Ricard at Le Castellet was set by the Comtoyou Racing Audi RS 3 of Kobe Pauwels, with the Comtoyou car of John Filippi second and Pauwels’ teammate Tom Coronel in third place. The three Audi cars were covered by 0.697 seconds, with Pauwels going over a second quicker than Coronel had in FP1 to set the fastest time across the day’s two Free Practice sessions.
Once the initial out lap was completed, it was the Target Competition Hyundai Elantra N of Marco Butti which set the first flying lap time (2:16.525) ahead of Viktor Andersson’s MA:GP Lynk & Co 03 (2:17.842). On the next lap, the Aggressive Team Italia Hyundai of Levente Losonczy set a 2:16.784 to go second quickest with Lewis Brown’s Volcano Motorsport Audi RS 3 LMS in P3 (2:16.824). Aurélien Comte then went P1 (2:14.961) in the SP Compétition CUPRA Leon Competición while Losonczy improved to go P2 with a 2:16.078.
After failing to set a time in FP1 due to a faulty transponder, Target Competition’s Dušan Borković went P4 briefly with a 2:16.659 before Pauwels set a 2:14.922 to go second-quickest in the Comtoyou Racing Audi and the ALM Motorsport Honda of Ruben Volt went P3 (2:15.664). Butti then improved his best lap time with a 2:15.920 before Viktor Davidovski set a time of 2:14.715 to lie in P2 behind Comte at the halfway point of the session.
Davidovski’s next lap then saw the Macedonian driver go P1 (2:14.524) as Pauwels improved his best time with a 2:14.836. Davidovski’s Comtoyou teammate John Filippi then went fifth fastest with a lap of 2:15.815 while both Borković (2:15.870) and Brown (2:15.657) improved to sit in P7 and P5 respectively. Comte also improved his best lap with a 2:14.661 but was still second behind Davidovksi.
With less than ten minutes of the session remaining, Tom Coronel went P4 with a 2:14.873 before his young teammate Pauwels set a stunning lap of 2:12.454 to claim P1 by a little over two seconds from Davidovski. As the session moved into the last five minutes, Comte moved back into P2 with a lap of 2:14.225, but that was still over 1.7 seconds down on Pauwels.
The final few minutes saw improvements by Borković (2:14.533), Nicola Baldan (first a 2:14.325 and then 2:14.308), Filippi (2:12.758) and Butti (2:14.064) but it seemed nobody could deny Pauwels the top spot in FP2. Even Coronel, who’d earlier set the fastest time in FP1 failed – he improved his best lap with a 2:13.151 to go P3 with around a minute remaining, but it was still nearly seven-tenths off Pauwels’ time.
When the chequered flag signalled the end of the session, Pauwels was just over three-tenths clear of Filippi, with Coronel making it an all-Audi top three. Behind the trio, Butti, Comte, Baldan, Davidovski, Borković, Volt and Brown occupied the rest of the top ten places.
Kobe Pauwels (fastest): “It was a good session; to be honest, it was easy. At the beginning we did some long runs again with tyres that have done a lot of mileage, as the races will be high temperature, especially on Sunday at exactly lunch time the asphalt will be cooking. We started with some very worn tyres to get a feeling ahead of that race, and once I had a good feeling on those tyres I boxed quickly for a new set of front tyres. We just did one lap, and apparently it was fast enough as we ended the day in a great P1.”
1. Kobe Pauwels (Comtoyou Racing, Audi RS 3 LMS) 2:12.454
2. John Filippi (Comtoyou, Audi RS 3 LMS) 2:12.758
3. Tom Coronel (Comtoyou Racing, Audi RS 3 LMS) 2:13.151
4. Marco Butti (Target Competition, Hyundai Elantra N) 2:14.064
5. Aurélien Comte (SP Compétition, CUPRA Leon Competición) 2:14.225
The two-stage Qualifying session is scheduled to start at 11.35 CEST tomorrow with Race 1 at 19.05. Race 2 is then scheduled for 12.10 on Sunday. Both races will be streamed live on tcr-series.tv and the TCR TV app plus the TCR TV YouTube channel.