Photo: Max Coates in action at Knockhill Racing Circuit
Following on from his debut win in the MINI CHALLENGE UK Max Coates went into the Knockhill round of the championship looking to repeat his Donington Park success.
The Primex Plastics and PLASgran Recycling sponsored driver quailed 7th for the opening race of the weekend, just two tenths behind the pole position lap time. With the field so close making progress would be difficult around the tight and twisty Scottish venue.
Coates started well, he climbed a position in the opening race and joined in the 4th place battle showing his intentions to rise further towards a podium finish in races two and three.
In race two Coates again battled at the front. Exiting Clark Curve, the JiC Transport car made a move to the left to pass another driver but was pitched into a spin as his opponent swerved left into his path. The high speed 100mph + spin ended with Coates nudging the inside tyre wall. He re-joined in last position with a small amount of damage and set about fighting his way back through the order, knowing his finishing position would be where he would have to start the following race. He passed 6 cars to cross the line 21st, but with lap times good enough for a podium finish.
Coates knew that the final race, shown live on ITV2 on Sunday, had to be good to keep a strong championship position, and the NGK Spark Plugs driver didn’t disappoint. He soared through the pack to 11th when an early safety car was brought out on lap 4. With every intention of a solid top 10 result Coates didn’t waste time making more progress and ended up 5th entering the final lap. In a last lap battle with series leader Ant Whorton-Eales, Coates was clearly faster and intent on passing. Setting up a switch-back manoeuvre at turn 3 Coates got the run on his rival for the position but the two tangled with Coates remaining 5th at the flag. Coates was later penalised for the contact.
After he commented, “It’s been an up and down weekend. Qualifying and race one went pretty well then, I had a massive moment in race two. It really shook me up and I expected to be collected by the oncoming pack. Fortunately, there wasn’t much damage and I could start my come back through the field from there. Race three was great fun overtaking all those cars, the last lap dicing with Ant was so tight. I came close to the pit wall as we entered the last lap and then had contact with him in a straight line as he tried to block me. I set the switch back move up and showed what I was planning to do, I’m really disappointed by the penalty as I feel I was far enough alongside to be given racing room. I was never going to disappear and tried all I could to avoid contact. It’s a difficult decision to accept and understand, but I’ll move on and come back stronger with the same intent on winning races at Silverstone.”
The series now heads to Silverstone for the 3rd round of the season on the 26th and 27th September.
2020 MINI CHALLENGE UK Season Calendar:
1. Donington Park National – 1st & 2nd August
2. Knockhill – 29th & 30th August
3. Silverstone – 26th & 27th September
4. Snetterton – 24th and 25th October
5. Brands Hatch Indy – 14th & 15th November