Coates stages Clio Cup comeback at Brands Hatch

Coates stages Clio Cup comeback at Brands Hatch

The Renault UK Clio Cup has been a mainstay of the British Motorsport scene for over 20 years, it’s 2019 championship has been one of the most exciting in its illustrious history. Yorkshireman Max Coates has played a central role in its final season after a yearlong title battle and rivalry with Ulsterman Jack Young.

Entering the final round at Brands Hatch in Kent, Primex Plastics sponsored Coates sat 15 points behind Young in the standings. The previous round at Silverstone provided the latest twist in the Coates-Young championship battle, the Yorkshireman ending the second race in the gravel trap after contact from his ex-team mate. Few thought the drama would, or could, escalate further at Brands Hatch.

But that it did and it all started in Qualifying. The rain-hit session started damp with all cars starting on wet Michelin tyres. The track dried quickly and Coates pitted to make his RPC bpi PLASgran car slick shod whilst his rival continued on wet tyres. After two laps Coates was on track to set the fastest lap of the session by some margin, but as he entered the final corner of the historic GP layout at Brands Hatch, he was greeted by a red flag halting the session after another driver had finished up in the gravel. With further rain afterwards the Polydist sponsored drivers times were only good enough for 4th and 10th on the grid for the weekends two races. Meanwhile Young had scored 7th and 3rd. It meant Coates would likely out-score in race one and Young would in the championship deciding race two.

As Coates in his Harron Homes backed car pulled up to 4th position on the grid in race one he stalled, his clutch not clearing sufficiently to stop the car. Thankfully he got it restarted and was able to continue without further issues, however he crept away slowly. Under pressure from his championship rival Coates turned defence into attack and was the fastest car on the circuit, within a lap moving into 2nd place. He then began his advances on the early race leader and on lap 5 was on his rear bumper. A safety car intervention was needed to clear a car stricken in the gravel trap which halted the RMB Automotive and Bennett Renault backed drivers progress. He then lost a spot at the restart and despite his early race pace had to settle for 3rd place. The action didn’t end there, Young was given a drive-through penalty for overlapping at the safety car restart, a penalty he did not serve. He was handed a 30-second penalty after the race which meant Coates lead the championship once more, by just a single point, going into the final race of the season.

To the finale, Coates starting 10th was really on the back foot despite his points advantage. A strong opening lap meant he climbed 5 places only for an early race safety car to halt his progress. The intervention was lengthy, but at the restart Coates looked almost certain to gain another position, only for another safety car to be called. Coates backed out of the move but other drivers didn’t hear the message on the radio and he slipped back to 6th place. Again, the safety car period was lengthy leaving just 4 laps for Coates to overhaul Young’s advantage. Coates moved swiftly through to 2nd place in the final laps and had one lap to close and pass his rival to take the championship. By that point the gap was nearly 3 seconds which was just too big for Coates to overcome. 2nd in the race and 2nd in the championship, by just 5 points.

Afterwards an emotional Coates said, “I put everything I had into that last race but it just wasn’t to be. The safety car laps hampered my chances to move forward but when I had the opportunity to overtake I did, I couldn’t be happier with my drive today but I’m so disappointed not to have taken the title. It’s easy with hindsight to look back at where I could have found another 6 points this year, we’ve had plenty of set-backs and really any one of them could have made the difference.

I’d like to thank all of my sponsors, Team HARD. and all the people who work with me on my racing and the car itself for giving the me the opportunity to do this, without them I couldn’t have put this title fight together. Likewise this ends four years of racing in the Renault UK Clio Cup, a championship that has rejuvenated my racing career and without doubt shaped my life, I’d like to extend my thanks to all the staff involved in the series and anyone who has been involved in the last 4 years.”

UK Clio Cup Media Officer Carl McKellar said “For the 300,000 fans who have attended the events and the millions more watching ITV4’s live coverage of the action, the rivalry between Max Coates and Jack Young has been the most exciting of the season out of all the BTCC’s supporting categories.

“Similarly, in the media room, the press – even those there to cover the BTCC – often commented how they’d downed tools to watch the Max vs Jack show – a real highlight of their day!

“To win 7 races in a championship as competitive as the UK Clio Cup is a very rare feat but Max managed this – it’s a huge testament to his abilities and how he has matured into a great all-round performer during the past several years. His following is now many thousands and actually puts to shame that of many drivers in higher levels of the sport – including some in the headlining BTCC.”

The Brands Hatch races can be watched back via the ITV Hub or BTCC ITV Motorsport website; Coates will have at least another two races meetings this year, competing in the final round of the Britcar Endurance Championship this weekend at Oulton Park and at the Race of Remembrance on the 9th and 10th November at Anglesey.

Coates suffers Silverstone blow

Coates suffers Silverstone blow

Max Coates arrived at the home of British Motorsport, Silverstone, as the Renault UK Clio Cup championship leader and after a terrific performance in Saturday’s race looked likely to head to the final round with an extended gap.  In typical Clio Cup fashion, the drama unfolded in Sunday’s live televised race on ITV4.

The Primex Plastics backed driver had looked fast in pre-event testing in both conditions on the Friday.  Qualifying was closely fought and Coates secured 3rd on the grid for both races, just a position behind his title rival Jack Young.

Coates settled into race one and sat 3rd in the RPC bpi PLASgran car during the race’s early laps.  By mid-race distance he began to attack, his chief championship rival just a position ahead. The Polydist sponsored driver found himself being slowed down and ‘backed-up’ into the chasing pack but he found his way through to 2nd place and was followed through by team-mate Jamie Bond.  The Coates, Young and Bond trio continued to battle to the end of the race, with Coates finishing 2nd and extending his championship lead to 6 points.

Broadcast live on ITV4 Max found himself in an early race three-way tussle for the lead, including Young, his championship rival.  Max, in his Harron Homes backed car was the main charger in the pack and found his way into the lead briefly at turn one before the cars went four abreast into the second complex of corners.  Max kept the pressure on and got back to 2nd and pulled the leader back in.  The RMB Automotive and Bennett Renault backed driver made a move for the lead at turn one but remained 2nd and came under attack from behind.  Unfortunately, Max was hit into the gravel entering Brooklands corner as another driver failed in their attempt to overtake.  With help from the supporting marshals Max was able to re-join the race, albeit with a damaged car and only two laps remaining. He crossed the line in 11th place giving him 5 points towards his championship challenge, a 6-point lead turned into a 15-point deficit.

Afterwards Coates said, “After such a promising race one and strong pace in race two I’m devastated with how the second race has ended.  Someone else’s mistake has cost me not only a podium but the lead of the championship at such a pivotal time in the season.  I’m more determined than ever to overturn this mis-fortune and come back to Brands Hatch in just over a weeks’ time to put on the best performance of my racing career. “

Silverstone’s races can be watched back via the BTCC ITV Motorsport website; The Clio Cup will conclude at Brands Hatch, Kent, on the 12th and 13th of October.  Coates will need race wins to put him in a position to win the championship.  He will qualify and have his first race on Saturday afternoon, both sessions can be followed via TSL Live Timing.  The season finale in which the championship is likely to be decided will be screened live on ITV4, at 12:45 on the Sunday afternoon.

Coates on top after Knockhill races

Coates on top after Knockhill races

The Renault UK Clio Cup made it’s first trip to Knockhill in four years as Scorton’s Max Coates took to the track leading the championship by 6 points.  He had a successful weekend lifting trophy’s in both races.

The Primex Plastics backed driver took pole position for the weekends first race in a frantic qualifying session which was interrupted by a rain shower.  Coates had posted the fastest time of the session when the rain fell which meant both he, and everyone else, couldn’t go faster.  The rain came about 10 seconds too early for Coates who was on a lap capable of race two pole as well but couldn’t make his normal braking at the final corner.

In race one the RPC bpi PLASgran car got away well and built up a comfortable lead on the opening lap before a safety car effectively restarted the race.  Under pressure from his main championship rival, the Polydist sponsored driver remained calm and never put a wheel out of line to come home the winner by 6 tenths of a second.

In race two which was screened live on ITV4 Max in the Harron Homes backed car didn’t make the best of starts and immediately came under pressure for 2nd place.  On lap four he dropped a wheel on the gravel and lost his position falling back to 3rd.  Two laps later a tap into turn one sent him straight on and fortunately he held control and re-joined still in 3rd place.  He then began a charge back.  The car in front made an error as Max caught him in the RMB Automotive and Bennett Renault backed car, this put Max back into the runner up spot.  Max tried what he could in the final stages to regain the lost time to the leader but couldn’t make it back up, instead having to settle for 2nd.

Afterwards Coates said, “Qualifying and race one was brilliant and really showed our abilities to the full.  The lap in qualifying felt great and I carried that pace and consistency over into race one.  Despite the pressure I kept it smooth and was really happy with my performance.  Race two didn’t got to plan, my reaction to the lights was slow and it allowed Jack to get a gap.  The race didn’t really pan out for me from there so a second place was a good result.  The Team HARD Racing guys have done a great job this weekend and I’d like to thank my sponsors for the continued support in pursuit of the Renault UK Clio Cup title.”

Knockhill’s races can be watched back via the BTCC ITV Motorsport website; The Clio Cup will continue at Silverstone, Northamptonshire on the 28th and 29th of September.  Coates will qualify on the Saturday before round fifteen takes place on Saturday afternoon, both sessions can be followed via TSL Live Timing.  The second race of the weekend, round sixteen, will be screened live on ITV4, at 13:40 on the Sunday afternoon.

Coates stars in Thruxton thrillers

Coates stars in Thruxton thrillers

Max Coates went into event number six of the Renault UK Clio Cup with a six point championship advantage and left with exactly the same gap, however every lap at the UK’s fastest motor racing venue was full of action.

The Primex Plastics backed driver showed his pace in qualifying, taking 2nd on the grid for race one and pole for race two.

In race one the RPC bpi PLASgran car was embroiled in a five way tussle for the lead with positions swapped at almost every corner. Coates crossed the line in second but was initially promoted to 1st due to a jump start penalty for the winner on the road. Subsequently Coates was given a 0.1 second penalty for cutting the chicane and gaining an unfair advantage, meaning he took 2nd place.

Race two, live on ITV4, continued in a similar fashion with more wheel to wheel racing, the Clio Cup action ranking among the best of the BTCC event renowned for its close racing. Coates, starting from pole position in his Harron Homes and Polydist sponsored car, was the early race leader which swapped between himself, championship rival Jack Young and Ben Colburn. The rest of the field were in hot pursuit and with two laps remaining any one of five cars were in a position to take the win.  Coates in the RMB Automotive car lead into the last lap and final chicane but a clash sent him spinning through the foam barriers into retirement, just a short run from the finish line. Coates car wasn’t able to move and unfortunately, he had to watch the win slip away.  After post-race penalties Coates’ Team HARD. Racing stablemate Ethan Hammerton took his first race win.

Afterwards Coates said, “I’m gutted not to have taken a win this weekend after showing such good speed in practice, qualifying and both races, especially after leading to the final corner in race two. The two races this weekend have been first draw entertainment for the drivers, teams and fans, it’s just a shame I wasn’t able to lift a first place trophy at the end.”

Thruxton’s races can be watched back via the BTCC ITV Motorsport website; The Clio Cup will continue at Knockhill, Fife on the 14th and 15th of September, a new circuit to the championship after several seasons missing the popular Scottish venue.  Coates will qualify on the Saturday before round thirteen takes place on Saturday afternoon, both sessions can be followed via TSL Live Timing.  The second race of the weekend, round fourteen, will be screened live on ITV4, at 2:55pm on the Sunday afternoon.

HARD battles give Coates Snetterton win

HARD battles give Coates Snetterton win

Team HARD. Racing’s Max Coates took a win in the Renault UK Clio Cup at Snetterton at the weekend to hold on to his championship lead.

Coates qualified his Primex Plastics and RPC bpi PLASgran sponsored car in 3rd and 2nd positions for the weekends two races respectively, narrowly missing out on two front row starts.  In fact the front three drivers on the gird were separated by less than three tenths of a second for race one and just half a tenth in race two.

The Yorkshireman made a good start in race one but couldn’t make up any places as he entered the first few corners.  He took a watching brief in the early stages until an overtake gone wrong between the leading two cars opened the gap for Coates to pounce.  Immediately up to 2nd the Harron Homes backed driver set-up the move to take the lead at the turn four hairpin passing team-mate Jamie Bond.  Coates looked set to take the win despite constant pressure from Jack Young behind until heavy contact from his chief title rival caused Max to lose the lead.  The damage caused a puncture on the final lap which left Polydist UK sponsored Max to manage the final four turns with very limited grip, crossing the line in a cloud of smoke in 6th place.

In the second race the RMB Automotive and Bennett Renault backed car started well hanging onto 2nd position.    The leader was given a 10 second penalty for a jump start thus promoting Max into the lead early in the race.  Then contact again from his title rival who forced his way past Coates into the then lead of the race.  Coates stayed right with Young to the flag despite battling handling issues caused from the earlier contact.

After the race Coates was awarded the win following a penalty for Young who had been deemed to have gained an unfair advantage in the overtaking move to gain the lead.

Later Coates said, “The race two win has made up for the disappointing finish to race one which got a bit hairy at the end with the puncture.  It’s shaping up to be a very close battle at the front with a number of drivers able to make an impression on the podium.  Thruxton is next and it’s a track I had two podiums at last year, it is the fastest track in the country and it’s always a challenge.”

Max and the team have two weeks to prepare for the Thruxton event down in Hampshire on the 17th and 18th August where the Renault UK Clio Cup will be again supporting the British Touring Cars.  Max will go into the event as the championship leader, just six points ahead, with race two scheduled to be broadcast live on ITV4 at 13:45 on Sunday 18th.

Photo credit: Jakob Ebrey

Coates takes double win at home circuit

Coates takes double win at home circuit

Yorkshireman Max Coates took an emphatic double victory at his home circuit, Croft, at the weekend in the Renault UK Clio Cup.  Watched on by more than one hundred sponsor guests he was the man to beat.

Hailing from Scorton, just five miles from North Yorkshire’s premier motorsport venue Coates needed a strong weekend to put his championship challenge back on track.  After a challenging test day on Friday he broke the circuit lap record on Saturday morning during qualifying, putting his Primex Plastics backed car in pole position for both of the weekend’s races.

Race one was held in wet conditions which changed minutes before the race.  His Team-HARD mechanics did a quick change to wet tires and set-up which worked well.  He made a good start and put a small gap over his nearest rival gradually pulling away in the early laps.  His opponent then spun leaving Max in his RPC bpi PLASgran sponsored car over twenty seconds in front at the chequered flag.

On a dry circuit Coates again started from pole position in-front of a capacity crowd on Sunday, challenged at turn one he managed to hold on to the lead.  As the race developed his nearest rival lunged past on the entry to the fast ‘Sunny In’ corner, however his fellow competitor had just received a ten second jump start penalty which promoted the RMB Automotive and Bennett Renault backed driver back into the lead.  He then knew sitting in second place would be enough to take the win with a huge crowd of local motor racing fans watching on Coates crossed the line to take the second win of the weekend and extend his lead in the championship*.

It was also a significant weekend for the racing driver as his sponsors RMB Automotive launched a limited-edition Max Coates 71 Renault Clio road car.  He also had another ten sponsors joining him at the weekend through his sponsor a tyre scheme.

Coates said, “What a weekend, two poles, two wins, the fastest ever lap in a Renault Clio, 160 guests, 10 new sponsors and a new road car in my name.  I’ve loved every second of it and I’m so grateful for the support I’ve had from my team, sponsors, family, friends and supporters.  Saturday’s result was particularly pleasing to have such a big lead at the flag but the cheer on the podium on Sunday was probably the highlight for me.  Thank you to everyone who made it a weekend to remember.”

Max’s sponsor a tyre partners were JT Atkinson Builders Merchants, Green Bricks Building Solutions, Alpamare Water Park, Northern Handling Systems, Park Gate & Company, Dinsdale Contracts, Workshop Supplies, Upex Electrical, Rapid Colour and Aycliffe Engineering.

The championship now heads to Oulton Park in Cheshire, where Max won last year.  He will be hopeful of more race wins in his quest to become the 2019 champion.  In between Coates will also compete in this weekend’s races of the Britcar Endurance Championship at Oulton Park and the TCR UK / Touring Car Trophy races at Donington Park for the DAT Racing team.

*when the championships dropped score rule is applied.

Photo credit: Jakob Ebrey