Max Coates on the podium after race three of the Porsche Sprint Challenge at Croft Circuit
Max Coates debut season in the Porsche Sprint Challenge GB kicked up a gear at Croft Circuit, the Yorkshireman’s home venue in the 2023 edition of the series. Alongside driving duties, the Graves Motorsport driver was hosting over 150 guests during the weekend in celebration of main sponsor Primex Plastics 25-year anniversary in business and 10 years of partnership in motorsport together.
Earlier in the race week Coates took over 20 VIP sponsors for their own unique look at the 2.1-mile Croft Circuit from the passenger seat of his 3.8 litre, 425bhp Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport race car. That rolled into two test sessions on the Friday which gave Max and the Graves Motorsport team chance to find the best set up for the race weekend.
An action-packed Saturday afternoon saw both a qualifying session and race for the JIC Transport backed car as Max looked set for pole position until the very closing stages of the session. He was just edged out by under a tenth of a second and would line up second on the grid for the first race of the weekend. The grid for the second race is taken off the drivers second fastest lap time, this time Coates being second and still just under a tenth of a second off the fastest lap.
Race one didn’t get off the best start as Coates shifted up to second gear too early, he immediately dropped to fourth but reclaimed the final podium slot later that lap. With new partners Canford & Castle Financial Planning watching on he closed the gap on second place but couldn’t find a way through. Under pressure from the car behind towards the end Coates had to settle for third place. This became second after the race finished with a penalty for the on-track winner.
Sunday’s race action was again all in the afternoon and this time in front of a capacity crowd at Croft as well as the many millions watching at home through ITV4. The second race held early in the afternoon saw a mixture of conditions. All the cars started on the slick dry tires and had to overcome several splashes of rain throughout which made gauging braking points and corner speeds very difficult. Coates, a relative master in those conditions, jumped up to second place during the rain shower and put pressure on the leader. Unable to find a way through he had to again settle for position and crossed the line second.
The final race was perhaps the spectacle of the day and indeed Porsche Sprint Challenge GB season so far. Coates launched off the line and immediately went on the offensive, darting around the back of leader Matt Armstrong’s car on the first lap. He lost a place whilst attempting an around the outside manoeuvre at turn one but then the race erupted into action. A puncture for the leader jumbled the order, Coates still third but the new leader now with damage after contact whilst claiming the lead. Coates hung in until another clash between the two ahead moved him to second and onto the back of the leader. He then began to try and prise open a gap to claim the lead, desperate to take a win in front of a home crowd. He couldn’t make it through and the race ended prematurely after a crash for another car. Afterwards though Coates was promoted to the win after the contact between early race leaders was reviewed and penalties applied.
An ecstatic Coates said, “On and off track it’s been such a good weekend, we scored more points than anyone else in the championship and although we remain 5th overall we’ve significantly reduced the gap at the front of the field, a championship challenge is firmly back on. We celebrated 25 years of Primex Plastics and 10 years together as partners, all 60 of their employees displayed on the car during the weekend which was a really nice gesture from them. With over 100 guests in our own hospitality unit the whole weekend was extremely busy. I’d like to extend a massive thank you to all my sponsor partners and the team at Graves Motorsport, especially my Dad who was up till 2am on Sunday morning getting the car ready for the big day.”
The next racing action for Max will be at Donington Park on the 26th and 27th August. He enjoyed his first podium finishes in the Porsche Sprint Challenge there earlier this year. As ever live timing from the event will be available via at tsl-timing.com whilst Max’s Sunday race will be televised live on ITV4 at 12.25 and 16.35.