Max Coates scored a podium finish in the Renault UK Clio Cup at the weekend in the championships second event of the season held at Donington Park. It wasn’t without a mixture in fortunes for the Yorkshireman who experienced a number of setbacks during the weekend.
The early championship leader qualified his Primex Plastics and RPC bpi PLASgran car second on the grid for the weekends two races as conditions dried out at the Derbyshire venue. It wasn’t all plain sailing however, as tape covering an air vent to prevent the windscreen steaming up in wet conditions was left on when he switched to slick racing tires for the qualification session. Whilst no competitive advantage was gained Coates and two other cars were excluded from the results of qualifying for a ‘technical infringement’. The penalty meant starting from the back of the grid with a 10 second penalty.
Whilst Coates pace was evident, he had a lot of work to do to propel his Harron Homes and Polydist sponsored car into a strong finishing position. Electing to start from pit-lane negated his 10 second penalty, Coates, significantly helped by an early safety car, romped through the field to sit in 3rd place on lap eight. Coates luck was certainly out, a stone hit his auxiliary belt at just the wrong point causing it to snap and the engines water pump to stop working. The engines temperature soared and forced the RMB Automotive and Bennett Renault backed car into retirement.
Coates had to start from the pit-lane again in race two and this time, live on ITV4, he had to do the work all himself. Without safety car help he scythed through to third on lap ten having run side by side for several corners with various drivers. With four laps to go Coates set about trying to get fastest lap in the final stages as he held on to his podium finish to the chequered flag.
Afterwards Coates said “It’s been a weekend of disappointment, the punishment in qualifying put us firmly on the back foot and knowing we had the pace to challenge for the lead and not being able to do so is very frustrating. I felt like a second place may have been on the cards in race one but it wasn’t to be, it’s our first mechanical retirement in three and a bit years in the Clio Cup which is testament to my mechanics abilities as this one was purely down to ‘bad luck’. I had a lot of fun battling through the field and I am definitely looking forward to pushing for race wins at my home race at Croft. I’d like to thank all my sponsors for their support throughout the weekend and hope I repaid theirs, and Team HARD’s efforts with the podium result.”
The championship now enters a month and half break before it’s next rounds at Croft, North Yorkshire, on the 15th / 16th June. Max will compete in the Britcar Endurance Championship with DAT Racing in the break at the Brands Hatch Indy circuit and GP version of the Donington Park circuit on the 11th May and 1st June respectively. He is also set to announce the return of his ‘sponsor a tyre’ sponsorship scheme where local business can get onboard for the local round of the championship.
Max Coates – Team Hard – Clio Cup
Photo credit: Jakob Ebrey
Following on from the teams departure from the Volkswagen Racing Cup series earlier this month, the team are delighted to announce that reigning Volkswagen Racing Cup champion Jamie Bond will be making the step up into the Renault UK Clio Cup for the remaining rounds of the season.
Bond won last year’s VW Cup title for Tony Gilham’s squad but will now move into the Clio Cup with it starting at this coming weekend’s third and fourth rounds of 2019 at Donington Park.
The 25-year-old, backed by Oakleaf Heating and Wrightsure Insurance, commented: “It’s been quite a late deal and my first run in the car will be during tomorrow’s (Thursday) two pre-event test sessions!
“I’m also respectful of the grid – the drivers on it are at the top of their game.
“A new championship and a new car… it is going to be a big learning curve but I’ve got high expectations of myself after what I’ve achieved before. As the season unfolds I’d certainly hope to be in the running for a couple of wins and podiums.”
Currently Team HARD leads the drivers’ standings with Max Coates and also the teams’ championship thanks to the efforts of its other drivers Jade Edwards and Ethan Hammerton.
Team HARD Principal Tony Gilham said: “We’re very excited that Jamie will be in a fourth car for us on the Clio Cup grid.
“He’s come up through our system having been involved in our scholarship in 2015 and then the VW Cup title with us last year. He’s also tested our British Touring Car Championship car and shown himself to be very capable – the BTCC is where he wants to be so this is a great shop window moment for him to show what he’s capable of in front of the live ITV cameras and very big race day crowds.”
This weekend’s two Clio Cup races take place on Sunday (28 Apr) at Donington and action from them will be shown during ITV4’s comprehensive live coverage of the day which also includes the latest rounds of the BTCC.
Max Coates got his 2019 Renault UK Clio Cup challenge off to the best start possible taking the maximum points tally available at the Brands Hatch Indy circuit in Kent, the first driver to do so in four years.
Pre-event testing for the opening round of the championship went well for Coates in his Team HARD. Racing car as he topped the timesheets, just half a tenth from the fastest recorded lap of the 1.2-mile circuit in a Renault Clio Cup car.
Whilst testing had been held in near perfect dry conditions qualifying was damp and cold, meaning the fastest times didn’t trouble the lap record. Still, Coates’ Primex Plastics backed car took pole position for both races, the top three separated by only one tenth of a second.
The opening race of the season was held in wet conditions and Coates took the early lead. He was challenged at the end of lap one but held on around the outside of Paddock Hill bend and began to pull away from the field. With a two second gap at mid-race distance he was sitting comfortably at the front until a late race charge from Jack Young, who qualified second for both races, closed the gap to just 0.351s at the chequered flag. Significantly the RPC bpi PLASgran sponsored driver set the fastest lap of the race and lead every lap, adding all three bonus points to his name.
Race two’s start didn’t go as well for the Bennett Renault and RMB Automotive backed car, he instead slotted into 2nd place and waited until mid-race to mount his attack. Closing the gap and applying the pressure on Young, he made a mistake at the final bend and Coates pounced to lead over the line on lap 14, however he couldn’t make the move stick at turn one. Coates, sponsored by Harron Homes and Polydist attempted a move at the last corner but to no avail. Crossing the line in second Coates took a healthy point score from the race along with fastest lap and having lead a lap.
After the race Young was given a 1 second time penalty for breaking safety car regulations which promoted Max to the race two win.
Afterwards an ecstatic Coates said, “This is the best start to the season possible, a double pole, double win and double fastest lap weekend is what we strive for and to achieve it at round one is awesome. That said I’d like to achieve it again this year by winning both races on the road, Jack drove excellently in both and didn’t make it easy for me so I have no doubt we will have close battles in just about every race this season and I hope that my team mates will join me in those battles. A big thanks to all involved in the Team HARD. Clio Cup squad who have put in great efforts to bring a team together for round one, we have created some really strong foundations from which to build on for the remainder of the season.”
With an 11-point lead at the top of the standings the Renault UK Clio Cup now heads to Donington Park in Derbyshire for rounds 3 and 4 on the 27th and 28th April.
Photo credit: Jakob Ebrey
It is with regret that Mike Bushell will not be racing in the British Touring Car Championship in 2019 due to both personal and budget reasons. Mike, who debuted with the team last season claimed a Jack Sears trophy win and finished the 2018 season as the teams’ top points scorer thanks to a string of consistent points finishes over the second half of the season.
However, that doesn’t mean that you won’t see Mike back in on the TOCA package in 2019 as we are delighted to announce that Mike will be entering in the final season of the Renault UK Clio Cup.
Tony Gilham, Managing Director of Team HARD. Racing had this to say on the situation. “I am absolutely gutted that Mike can’t be on the BTCC grid with us for 2019. He is one of the main reasons for our turn in form during the second half of the 2018 season; having a brilliant weekend at Rockingham and showing everyone the true pace of the Volkswagen CC.
Mike will continue to be a fantastic ambassador for us, proving to be to a favourite with fans, our partners and the team. His contribution stems not only his performance on track, but also off it. Mike has been our go to man over the winter to perform hot laps for our corporate track days as well as helping to develop the car, righting the wrongs of the beginning of 2018. He has put us in a very good place for this season.
I’m really sorry to see the problems that Mike has had over the last few months but we have been trying everything in our power to help him get on the grid for this season and I am delighted that he will be back in the Clio Cup for this season, looking for a third title.
A great person and a great friend, Mike it was imperative that we found a space within our racing ranks for Mike, he is Team HARD through and through.”
The 2014 and 2017 Clio Cup champion Mike Bushell commented: “The plan had been a second season with Team HARD. in the British Touring Car Championship but a few sponsorship deals haven’t worked out so it’s back to the Clio Cup.
“It’s similar to the move I made after my first season in the BTCC in 2015 and I’ve always said if I can’t race in touring cars then the Clio Cup is the best place for a driver to be.
“I’ve had no hesitation in making this decision – the professionalism and type of racing means that, as a driver, you stay sharp and you know the cars are equal.
Plus, of course, there’s all the exposure with it being at the BTCC’s events which means huge bang for your buck.
“While of course I’d love to have been staying on the BTCC grid, this is the best alternative to remind people of how competitive I am and to write my own piece of history in one of the best race championships.”
The team have been working hard to find a solution in time for the forthcoming British Touring Car Championship on March 27th. Mikes replacement has put pen to paper with further details being released imminently.
Jade Edwards will join the Team HARD. squad for her third season in the Renault UK Clio Cup in 2019 and says podium results are her target.
Jade will team up with fellow ‘fans’ favourite’ Max Coates and newcomer Ethan Hammerton in the Team HARD. line-up.
She is scheduled to begin testing her car next week in early preparation for the opening two rounds of the 2019 Clio Cup season at Brands Hatch in Kent on the weekend of Sat 6/Sun 7 April.
All 18 of the Clio Cup’s rounds will take place at the British Touring Car Championship’s events which are broadcast LIVE on free-to-air TV channel ITV4 as well as on-line. Trackside crowds average over 38,000 people per event.
Jade, the daughter of 2000 Clio Cup Champion Jim Edwards Junior, experienced highs and lows during 2018’s season…
She regularly ran inside the top ten – a pair of fifth place finishes were her best results – but she was also involved in a couple of high-profile accidents.
The 28-year-old from Northampton commented: “I’m delighted to be able to announce this deal – Team HARD. boss Tony Gilham has been a huge help and so have two of my existing sponsors, Candeo Vision and Spectra Analysis, who have remained incredibly loyal.
“I was determined to return to the Clio Cup; the competition is always there which brings credibility and there’s some unfinished business – 2018 wasn’t a reflection of my true form. I want to put that right this season and podiums have to be the goal.
“There’s a bit of history to being on the grid this year, too – my father won the first Clio Cup title in the championship’s current guise so I’d like to uphold family honour by doing well in the category’s final season.”
Jade’s deal with Team HARD. means she is renewing a previous partnership with Coates, who came close to winning the title last year.
She continued: “We were team-mates in my debut season in 2017 and we get on really well, but Max has also got great knowledge when it comes to car set-up as well as obvious pace so that can only help me.
“We also both put a lot of work in for sponsors and fans so I believe we will have a very strong line-up both on and off the track.”
Tony Gilham said: “We’re really excited to have finally been able to get a deal signed to welcome Jade in to the Team HARD. family and support her for the 2019 Clio Cup season.
“Having known Jade for a number of years now, she will be a familiar face to many within the team and she has become a personal friend. We had a very productive meeting when we met Jade and her father Jim last week and it became clear that this would be a great relationship as we have the same aspirations.
“She has a huge following of her own so can only be a positive as she now joins the ever expanding Team HARD. stable. It’s very clear that she is fired up for the season ahead and we are confident that we can achieve everything we have set out to do and fight for podiums from the start of the season.”
Team HARD. Racing will be entering the final ever season of the Renault UK Clio Cup in 2019. In a double announcement the team can also confirm that multiple Clio Cup race winner Max Coates will be joining the team with 2018 BTCC racer Ethan Hammerton for an assault on the championship.
The pair have a fantastic working relationship together as Max coached Ethan to 2nd in the Clio Cup junior series in 2017. In fact, the pair live just 10 minutes away from each other in North Yorkshire.
This marks the team’s first venture into Europe’s premier single-model saloon car championship.
Team HARD. boss Tony Gilham is delighted to finally add the Clio Cup to the teams every growing portfolio. “We’ve wanted to join the Clio Cup for some years and the timing is just right with Max and Ethan – both will also test our BTCC car during the championship’s mid-season official tyre test.
“With his results in the Clio Cup, Max is going to be a very strong contender for the title. Ethan was the winner of our young driver scholarship and is a very exciting talent.
“Together they make for a very strong driver line-up and our plan is to take them both back into the BTCC with us.”
After winning four races, Coates narrowly missed out on the title in 2018 having led the series for most of the championship. Entering his fourth season in the Clio Cup, Coates has finished in the top four on every occasion. Last term he also notched up the most pole positions in the UK series and finished second in Renault’s Internationale Finale event at Paul Ricard.
Coates said: “This will be my fourth season in the championship, we came so close to taking the title in 2018. I’ve learnt more and more each year, have retained my mechanics from last season, and we feel confident about the season ahead. I’m particularly looking forward to racing a Clio at Knockhill which a great spectacle for drivers and fans alike.
“It’s a very exciting moment to confirm this deal with Team HARD. who do so much to support drivers; their offer of a BTCC test is evidence of this. The Clio Cup features close racing and great business opportunities, commercially this works really well for my sponsors, more of whom I will be announcing soon.”
“Ethan has fantastic raw pace, a sensational ability to put what he is told into practice and very good car control. Having coached him from the passenger seat of a Clio I know this first hand!”
Ethan who is a Team HARD. Racing scholarship graduate is looking forward to spending a full season on the TOCA package.
“I had some amazing experiences at Silverstone and Brands Hatch at the end of 2018 in the BTCC. The TOCA package is completely different to anything I have ever experienced before from the cars, the competition and the fans.
“The Clio Cup championship in my opinion is the best single make series in Europe and the racing is always exciting. Working with Max is going to be fantastic as he has tutored me in the past. I think it’s time to return the favour and show him a thing or two!”
The Team HARD. Racing snowball just keeps on expanding as they enter another new championship for 2019. The Clio Cup will prove an exciting challenge and raise the team’s profile even further within the TOCA package.