A final battle for Europe and a chance at the World Final.

October 23, 2023

Written by Chris Hosie

Image credit: europe.tcr-series.com

The 2023 TCR Europe Series enters its final round of the season. This year sees a double incentive for the title contenders. A chance to become champion of Europe and a place at the TCR World Final.

The TCR Europe Series went to Spain, specifically the Circuit de Catalunya, for the final round of the 2023 season. They would be supporting the International GT and EuroFormula Open championships for the last time in 2023. With their titles up for grabs alongside the TCR Open title. Tom Coronel and Kobe Pauwels were the main title favourites for the event. Both drivers being split by just 10 points. John Filippi and Viktor Davidovski were third and fourth, hoping to consolidate their positions, while Britain’s Lewis Brown was in fifth place. Hoping to end the year on a high note. For many, it would also be a chance to secure themselves a place to the TCR World Final at the beginning of next year. Enabling them to compete against some of the finest touring car stars on the planet. Audi also looked set for glory, with their pulling out of all motorsport endeavours to focus on Formula 1, the German mark was hoping for a another Championship to add to their name before their farewell. 

Saturday would see the first race of the weekend and the penultimate race of a thrilling 2023 tour. The top three in the championship lined up in an almost Pixar style manner. As they were the top three on the grid. Coronel and Pauwels on row one with Filippi on row two. Lewis Brown lined up in fourth with Viktor Andersson and Nicola Baldan in sixth. With the exception of Andersson, Audi had five cars in the top six places. Levente losonczy was the best of the Hyundai runners in seventh. Under the setting Spanish sun, the race got under way. It may have been a 13 car grid, but it was action a plenty. 

Pauwels got a great start and passed his Comtoyou teammate for the lead and it would be one he would never have to fear losing. The Belgian putting together a commanding drive. Showing the experience Coronel how it was done and in doing so, threatening the Dutchman’s slender advantage in the championship. Ruben Volt was the driver of the day on Saturday, having started dead last. He worked his way through the field in a drive which was now a major part of his skill and season. He would make his way well into the top 10, only to have a duel with Lewis Brown. The Brit, newly signed to the Comtoyou stable, fought doggedly with the Honda driver. 

It all went wrong for both however, Volt tagged the back of Brown and sent the Audi shooting off to the gravel. Both would continue with Brown finishing 11th and Volt 13th after receiving a thirty second penalty. Pepe Oriola, making his return to TCR Europe had a fairly satisfying performance. Ending the race with a very respectable sixth place. Also battling hard were Andersson and Lasonczy. The two exchanging paint and positions at the beginning of the race, before the Hungarian dropped to ninth. Leaving the Swede to take a solid fifth. Filippi scored a third place finish with Baldan taking fourth. But no one could match Kobe Pauwels, taking a commanding victory in race one and setting the stage for an all-out fight for the title. A fight made even more juicy as, with every weekend, the top 10 in race one would be reversed for race two.

Race two would be the final race of the weekend and of the 2023 season. Honda’s Ruben Volt was the man on Pole Position with the Audis of Coronel and Pauwels on the fifth row, rounding out the top 10. As the lights went out, it was a fabulous start for the second place car of Daniel Tkachenko, the Audi Shooting straight into the lead. Volt trying to keep him honest into turn one, but to no avail. The Orange Audi coming out in front of the wildly off line white and red Honda. However, it later transpired that the start Tkachenko made was too good. He would receive a drive through penalty, dashing his chances of a win in the last race of the season. 

The race saw much battling between the Comtoyou Audis. Eventually seeing the safety car be deployed as Davidovski got tagged by Coronel and was sent into the gravel at turn four. The incident was looked into, but no action was taken. The collision pit down as a simple racing incident. This helped to take the pressure off Coronel, double in fact, as Pauwels was forced to retire from the race on the warm up lap. A mechanical issue hindering his Audi and extinguishing his hopes for the championship in one of the cruellest ways imaginable. The safety car came back in and with the lap distance extended, the race got underway again. 

Lasonczy was having a strong performance, eventually finishing in a respectable eighth place. Fighting it out with seventh placed Oriola and ninth placed Fernandez. Coronel meanwhile, had just one mission. Finish the race and score as many points as possible to confirm his championship claim. A mission accomplished by finishing fourth place, just shy of the podium. Up front, Volt led a faultless drive and took the final race victory of the 2023 season. John Filippi would claim second and Viktor Andersson would end his season on a high. A third place for the Lynk&Co driver, giving his former TCR Denmark contending team a very big reason to celebrate after what had been a competitive yet tough season in Europe’s premiere touring car championship.

However, the biggest celebrations of the weekend and of the season would be reserved for Tom Coronel and Comtoyou Racing. The TCR European Champions of 2023. It was also a title won for the Audi RS3 TCR Gen 2. With the famed German mark set to be absent from TCR to focus on F1 in the coming years. Who knows what the Comtoyou stable will do next year in terms of cars, but that is for next year. For now Coronel, the team and Audi can rejoice in the fact that they are the champions of the 2023 TCR Europe Series. And with that the season comes to an emotional and historic ending under the Spanish sunshine of Catalunya. 

For some the season next year will start at the inaugural TCR World Final in February. However, for the TCR Europe Series, it has been another exciting and action packed season of top quality touring car action. Now the wait begins for 2024. When, once again, the finest teams and drivers in Europe will compete for their chance of World Final glory and to be crowned the next champion of European Touring car racing. For now, it’s goodbye and hope to a new and exciting year in 2024.


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