Max Coates headed to Rockingham Motor Speedway near Corby in Northamptonshire with the aim of extending his championship lead, but the Harron Homes sponsored Pyro Motorsport driver didn’t have it all his own way.
Friday’s test sessions showed fantastic race pace with Coates posting the 5th fastest time of the day during a planned race run. Qualifying also went well with 3rdplace grid slots for the weekend’s two races. With his two young Pyro Motorsport teammates, Jack McCarthy and Bradley Burns lined up on the front row Coates was hopeful of a strong team result and to remain in front of his title rivals.
A strong getaway meant Coates kept his position at the start of race one held in dry conditions. The Primex Plastics and PLASgran Recycling sponsored driver was then hit in the left rear wheel on lap two whilst in 4th place. The resulting damage was a puncture three laps later forcing the BRDC Rising Stars first non-finish in his three year Clio Cup career. The damage meant that Coates couldn’t hold the pace of the front-running cars and had slipped back to 5th at the time he pitted with damage.
The second race got underway in front of a packed grandstand and an even larger live ITV4 audience, another good start ensured that Coates held the position. The Clements Limited driver then passed teammate Burns for 2nd and began a charge on leader McCarthy. At mid-race distance, Coates became under pressure from Mike Epps. Despite having good early pace Coates elected to settle for third in the latter laps ensuring that the Bennett Renault car re-extended the championship lead to 7 points as the series heads to Silverstone for the penultimate rounds.
Afterwards, Coates said, “It’s a shame that race one put a dampener on the weekend, I really felt we had the pace to win in the dry but we weren’t able to show it. We hold the championship lead and I feel strong in the car so I can’t wait to get going at Silverstone.”
The home of British Motorsport, Silverstone (Northamptonshire), hosts the next rounds of the British Touring Car Championship and its supporting series as the ITV4 televised series will no doubt provide more action in what has been a thrilling season.