Max Coates started the 2021 MINI CHALLENGE with a trio of difficult races as the season got underway at the Snetterton Circuit in Norfolk, with spectator’s trackside for the first time in 18 months.
The North Yorkshireman was on course to set the fastest lap of Qualifying until he spun on fluid dropped by another car at the difficult Coram bend. After re-grouping, he posted the 6th fastest time of the session in his Graves Motorsport prepared car.
He initially lost a position at the start of race one but the Primex sponsored driver clawed it back just a lap later and set about chasing down the pack ahead. Whilst showing race-winning pace, he gained another spot but came embroiled in a battle for 5th position. Unfortunately, he clashed with another driver as they both scrabbled for the same piece of tarmac, the contact causing a puncture and a non-finish.
As a result, Coates in his JiC Transport backed car would start race two from 26th on the grid but surged through on the opening lap to move up 10 positions until more misfortune hit. As he entered the Brundle chicane his gearbox broke and was stuck in 6th gear causing him to fall to the back of the pack again. After a pitstop he crawled round to finish in 24th.
Hopeful of progress in the final race of the weekend he would again have to start down in 24th position. Whilst running inside the top 20 he had to take avoiding action twice, both losing him ground and in the second causing him to go off track filling the front air vents with grass. He had to pit to avoid overheating the engine crossing the line in a lowly 24th position.
Following the weekend Coates said, “This weekend has been one to forget, it seemed luck just wasn’t on my side. Brands Hatch is next and it’s a track I love so I‘m looking forward to putting this weekend right there. On a positive side working with the Graves Motorsport team has been great and it was simply brilliant to see people trackside enjoying racing once again.”
The second round of the 2021 MINI CHALLENGE UK season comes from the Brands Hatch Indy circuit in Kent on the 26th & 27th June where Max hopes to repeat his pole position from last year.