Kobe Pauwels has been threatening to depose Volland Racing team-mate Yury Belevskiy from the highest step of the podium since the beginning of the campaign, and in France yesterday (5 September), the Belgian teenager finally succeeded to truly ignite the Euro RX3 championship battle.
Pauwels had never raced at Lohéac before the weekend, but he is nothing if not a quick learner and after posting the fastest time in Q3, he proceeded to dominate the second semi-final and duly line up on the front row of the grid for the final.
Following an early joker, the 16-year-old – one of the youngest and least experienced drivers in the Euro RX3 field – hunted down pole-sitter Belevskiy and seized the initiative following the Russian’s own joker. He subsequently held on to the chequered flag to secure a hugely popular breakthrough victory, with the Russian placing second to retain the championship lead and Timur Shigabutdinov rounding out the rostrum to complete a Volland top three lockout.
Marat Knyazev finished fourth, with Jan Černý and local specialist Maximilien Eveno leading the Škoda charge in fifth and sixth respectively.
“It was great to beat Yury in the final,” enthused the delighted winner. “He was really quick all weekend and we had a close fight. We took an early joker strategy to just get some clean air and catch him up. There is a lot of pressure on the spotters in that regard, but thankfully, my father usually gets it right and this result is also thanks to him. It’s such a competitive field in Euro RX3, and when I crossed the line to win, the feeling was just amazing.”