Kobe Pauwels is aiming to make more ‘dreams come true’ at Benelux World RX of Spa-Francorchamps this weekend (9-10 October), as he bids to build upon the momentum of his breakthrough Euro RX3 triumph last time out with another starring performance on home soil.
Since stepping up from CrossCar competition, Pauwels has been a front-runner in the fiercely-contested Euro RX3 category right from the outset. In the Catalunya curtain-raiser, the highly-rated Belgian teenager pushed Yury Belevskiy – last year’s highest scorer – throughout the qualifying stages and semi-finals, only to find himself tagged sideways at the start of the final.
At Höljes two weeks’ later, he charged from the back row of the grid to the runner-up spoils, posting the fastest lap along the way, and then at Lohéac, everything came together as Pauwels turned the tables on his Volland Racing team-mate to register his maiden Euro RX3 victory in impressive fashion.
“Lohéac was amazing,” he reflected. “Dreams come true – as long as I can remember from running around the paddock when my father was driving, I had been dreaming about that moment. When I crossed the finish line at Lohéac, luckily I had to push a button to talk to my dad, because if I hadn’t, I’m sure his ears would have been damaged as I was screaming so much!
“I was over the moon, knowing I had made him and everyone around me so proud and after all the time and effort we have put in together as a family and as a team over the last couple of years, that win gave us something back. Even a month on now, I still struggle to properly describe that feeling. If I can make the dream come true once again this weekend, it would be incredible...”
Despite being firmly in the title fight – sitting second in the standings entering the weekend, 15 points adrift of Belevskiy – Pauwels is quick to stress that he is not putting any undue pressure on himself, although he is clearly relishing the challenge of competing at one of the most legendary circuits on the international motorsport calendar.
“I don’t like setting goals,” the 16-year-old insisted. “People have been saying to me, ‘you won at Lohéac so you should also win here’. Of course I want that, being my home event and in front of all my sponsors, family and friends and if I get the chance, I will of course take it, but like at every other round this year, the main goal is to learn and have fun. I’m still only 16, and I really want to enjoy this moment during my life and keep the smile on my face.
“Just to get the opportunity to race in my home event at Spa in my rookie season in Euro RX3 is amazing – I feel very honoured. It’s an awesome track, and going down the Raidillion towards Eau Rouge, the top speed is insane. The first corner isn’t so wide – with five cars going in there side-by-side, it can get a bit hectic to say the least – and with its multiple lines, the banked last corner is where you can really make a difference.
“Of course, we would like to close in on Yury in the championship, but given how consistent he is, that will be easier said than done. He and I really push each other to the next level, which ultimately helps us both. We’ve had some great battles this season, and hopefully we’ll have a few more this weekend...”