North Yorkshire based Max Coates finished as the vice-champion in the Renault UK Clio Cup at the weekend despite his best efforts to clinch the title. Going into the weekend the Pyro Motorsport driver had a slender 6-point lead over his nearest rival.
The Harron Homes sponsored driver posted the fastest time of the day during Friday practice, 4 tenths of a second under the existing lap record. Therefore, hopes were high for another pole position and to maintain his excellent qualifying record this season. However, the result was a 6th and 7th placed start for the weekends two races, importantly behind his two title rivals.
The Primex Plastics and PLASgran Recycling car got off the line well in the opener, held on Saturday afternoon. He immediately jumped into 6th place and was challenging for 5th from the offset. An early safety car paused his climb through the field after which 3 racing laps concluded the race which ended prematurely following a huge role for a competitor. The result meant that going into the second race of the weekend Coates points advantage had been reduced to just three points, with the 3rd placed driver a further point behind.
In what essentially became a winner takes all season finale Coates had work to do. From a 6th placed starting position his title rivals both started in front of him, in 2nd and 5th respectively. The Clements Limited backed BRDC Rising Star made a phenomenal start and immediately gained two positions and closed in on the 3 leading cars. On the 2nd lap, he seized an opportunity when the 2nd and 3rd placed cars ran wide, leaving him directly behind his chief championship rival, James Dorlin. Coates couldn’t shake off the challenge from behind, the slipstream effect meaning his rivals closed in. Coates then lost 2nd place before a safety car brought the pack back together. He pounced at the restart gaining 2nd back but contact forced him wide and back to 3rd again. Another safety car was deployed before a final three-lap dash to the checkered flag set to decide the championship. Coates tried everything he could to regain 2nd place in the Bennett Renault sponsored car including a spectacular two-wheeled moment at Paddock Hill bend. He couldn’t find a way through and finished third on the road, just 3 points adrift of the championship win.
Following the final race, Coates said, “What a season! I’m gutted to have missed out on the championship by such a small margin, I’ll be rueing every point lost for a while. I am, however immensely proud of what my team and I, which includes sponsors, friends, family and the two teams I have raced for in the Clio Cup, have achieved over the past three seasons. To have competed at this level is amazing, let alone the huge success enjoyed over the three years.”
Whilst the Renault UK Clio Cup season is over Max still has races planned throughout the remainder of the year. First is the Britcar race at the Silverstone GP circuit this weekend followed by an invite only Renault Clio World Cup Final at Paul Ricard in the South of France. He will also race in the Britcar into the night race at Brands Hatch in November. The ‘off-season’ is also critical to Max’s 2019 aspirations to return to the British Touring Car Championship, the UK’s highest profile racing series with more than 20 million viewers via Live ITV4 coverage and more than 380,000 spectator’s trackside. He is actively working with various partners to make the next step in his racing career.