· Max Coates wins race three on debut in MINI CHALLENGE UK at Donington Park
· Sit’s 3rd in the standings after opening round
· Next race at Knockhill on the 29th & 30th August
The 2020 British Touring Car Championship and supporting races, including the MINI CHALLENGE UK got underway at Donington Park over the weekend. Max Coates has joined the MINI series with Elite Motorsport after four years in the Renault UK Clio Cup and he wasted no time in showing his intent to continue his winning ways.
In his Primex Plastics and PLASgran Recycling sponsored car Coates had a difficult start to the weekend, slightly off the pace in testing. That was until Qualifying when he posted the 7th fastest time. He was, however, on track to qualify 4th, just a tenth behind the pole sitter, when a red flag stopped the session before he could cross the line and complete his lap.
Then came race one, something new for the JiC Transport sponsored driver to master. The first race start didn’t go too well as he dropped back a position. As the race unfolded his pace came through, passing two drivers to move up to 6th place. He was closing in on 5th and ready to pass when the safety car was brought out. From there Coates struggled to make up any more positions holding 6th position to the finish.
His race two start, taken from the finishing position of race one, again dropped him down the order, but the driver backed by NGK Spark Plugs made up positions holding 4th for the majority. A last-lap battle with Tom Rawlings relegated him to 5th position.
Then onto the reverse grid race. Coates 5th place finish meant he would start the final race, televised live on ITV4, in 6th. A much better getaway left him in a fighting position on the exit of turn one and he duly moved up to 5th position around the outside of the series leader. Before the end of the lap he claimed another position to move into 4th. As they entered the second lap, he pounced up the inside of James MacIntyre into 3rd. He then set about catching the leader’s and before the end of the lap made the most of a scuffle between the pair to claim the lead. From there he tried to pull a gap but was kept honest by Kyle Reid who closed in the final stages. Coates was able to hold on through to take his maiden victory in the series on his debut weekend.
After he commented, “That was a bit hairy at times, I had to make up ground in the first two laps and I took some risks. Fortunately, they paid off. We made a set-up change for the last race and it seemed to work, we’ve been learning with the car and race distances all weekend and I think we went some way to cracking the secrets of the car in the final race, so I’m now chuffed to bits.”
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