Yorkshire’s Max Coates represented the United Kingdom in the Renault Clio Cup Internationale Finale at Paul Ricard in the South of France last weekend (3rd and 4th) November and finished 2nd in the World Final race. Coates was selected to race as a result of his successes in this seasons Renault UK Clio Cup which included four race wins.
Apart from the UK and China who had already contested their final rounds of their respective championships in their own countries, all other Clio Cup series from across the world finished their seasons at the French circuit over the weekend. This included drivers from Central Europe, Spain, Italy and France. The top 7 drivers of each Championship were then selected to race in the Internationale Finale event held on Sunday.
Coates and his fellow British drivers took part in the Central European Championship races first to gain valuable track time. The series attracts drivers from Germany, Poland, the Netherlands, Austria, Sweden, Czech Republic and Finland. Following wet practice and qualifying on Friday and Saturday morning Max, a BRDC Rising Star, took 3rd place on the grid for the opening race. This was the first time he had driven the circuit in dry conditions and duly picked up two spots in the opening half to come home a clear winner. In the second race on Sunday morning Coates followed British driver Jack Young home in 2nd, annihilating the competition with a gap of more than 15 seconds behind.
Then to Qualifying for the Internationale Finale and the British drivers now joining the best of the best Clio Cup drivers in the World. Coates planned to work with Young after their dominance earlier in the day and the pair successfully sealed front row lock out, Coates just 2 tenths of a second behind Young. The atmosphere was tense before the start of the race, with anticipation not only to see which country was best, but also to find out who would win the £40,000 Renault Megane R.S. car as a prize.
Young made an excellent start from the front row of the grid but Coates in his Harron Homes, Primex Plastics, RPC bpi PLASgran and Bennett Renault backed car caught up as the race progressed. A safety car on lap 6 bunched the whole field back together and made the race into a 3-lap dash to the chequered flag. Coates initially judged the restart well but an unexpected braking manoeuvre by Young allowed him to get away. It meant Coates had to fend of the advances of Frenchman Benoit Castagne who was the only driver to stay in touch with the British pair in the early part of the race. Once Coates had shrugged off the competition from behind, the gap to the leader was too big to overcome and Coates had to instead settle for 2nd place.
Afterwards Coates said, “It has been a fantastic event and I’m immensely proud and honoured to represent my country at an event of this magnitude. We have shown that the UK series is the best in the world and 2nd is a fantastic achievement. I’m disappointed not to have won as I felt I had the speed to do so and Jack’s safety car restart left me massively on the back foot and unable to challenge him in the final laps as I had planned. I’d like to thank everyone involved for their support in getting to and competing in this event, it’s been great fun and fantastic to be a part of.”
Coates will finish his racing season next weekend at Brands Hatch where we will take to the controls of the DAT Racing Seat Leon TCR car in the Britcar into the Night race. He is currently working on a deal to race in the 2019 British Touring Car Championship.
The event was streamed live on YouTube and can be viewed via the following link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LftLmw3btv8