Photo credit: PJK Moto Media / Paul James Kelly
North Yorkshire’s Max Coates stole the show at Rockingham Motor Speedway in rounds 13 and 14 of the Renault UK Clio Cup.
The Harron Homes sponsored car consistently appeared towards the top of the time sheets during the Friday test sessions. Coates elected to run older tires in session one to focus on the race pace of his Ciceley Motorsport car. The second session provided a better guide as to his qualifying potential. In near perfect conditions Coates set a new qualifying lap record in his Primex Plastics Limited and PLASgran Recycling backed car, followed up with another storming lap to secure a double pole position for the weekends two races.
The Clements Limited backed car managed to hold 1st position throughout lap one and stretched a gap at the front of the pack. He then began to control the race setting times within two tenths of a second for the first seven laps of the race. Despite high-pressure from a fellow title challenger behind, JT Atkinson sponsored Coates held on to take a win by 0.594s.
Coates then lined up on pole for the second encounter, broadcast live on ITV4 and on-board via Coates’ car. He made a better start than he had done in race one but lost the lead on the way into turn 2 which he regained. A slide exiting turn 3 moved him back to 3rd place. Coates then began to attack the championship leader putting him under immense pressure. A locked brake into turn two on lap seven meant that Coates ran on and dropped back to 5th place. He then showed his true pace, following two gutsy overtakes at the Tarzan hairpin he claimed the final podium spot.
Afterwards Coates said, “This has been one of our best weekends in the Renault UK Clio Cup, I have really gelled with the circuit and the car here. The double pole set the weekend up just how we wanted it, yesterday was great and I just controlled things from the front. Sunday was a lot more difficult having to fight back through. Mike didn’t make it easy for me and I feel his erratic defensive driving cost me the chance of a win. Had I passed Mike I don’t have any doubt that the win was on the cards again today. A massive thank you to my Ciceley Motorsport team and group of sponsors who commit so much to get me out on track.”
As the season goes on the opportunity to clinch the title becomes more and more difficult. Max is, however, still firmly in with a chance for second place in the standings come the end of the year. The next races will take place at Silverstone on the 9th and 10th September.