The MINI Challenge UK season came to a thrilling end last weekend at the iconic Brands Hatch GP circuit in Kent and it was Max Coates who took the win in an action-packed season finale.
On the back of a pole position at Donington Park last time out Coates looked strong all the way through qualifying. He ended the session 2nd which also gave the Yorkshireman the second highest qualifying average of the season.
As the first race got underway Coates made the best start and initially lead on the way into the Druids Hairpin. The three drivers behind all entered too quickly and Coates had to take avoiding action by moving onto grass. He dropped to 11th place but made short work of getting back into the top ten. He was then in a race long battle for 6th place and a last lap move round the outside netted him 7th at the flag.
Over the first two laps of race two he gained two places putting him into 5th place and another race long battle, this time with champion elect, Dan Zelos. Whilst Coates was quicker on the GP part of the Brands Hatch circuit, he couldn’t get close enough to mount a serious challenge.
The final race was set to be a real thriller, thanks in part to its reverse grid nature which placed Coates 3rd on the grid. Coates again made a strong start but had to settle for 3rd spot until Kenan Dole, sitting in 2nd slid out of the race at turn three. Coates then started to close the gap to the leader, Jack Davidson. Coates had strong pace setting the fastest lap on the third tour. He caught the leader and immediately began to attack but lost out as Davidson’s defensive moves compromised Coates. The Graves Motorsport driver was the man on the move though, getting back to 2nd by lap five but again falling back to 3rd whilst dicing with Davidson. With three laps to go the top seven drivers were nose to tail and the leading pair ran wide exiting Stirling Bend. Coates seized the opportunity to take the lead and immediately began opening a gap which he then extended before taking the flag 1.932 seconds ahead of the competition.
The result landed the Primex Plastics backed driver 5th in the 2021 MINI CHALLENGE UK Championship as well as the Graduate championship for drivers in their second year of competing in the series. Coates said “What a race to finish the year, that was so tough with cars in front and behind. It’s great to reward the efforts of the Graves Motorsport team with this race win and also pay thanks to my sponsors who help me to continue my with my racing career. It’s a clear statement of intent for what we can achieve next season which I am really looking forward to.”
Coates has already confirmed that he will continue in the MINI CHALLENGE UK next season with the same Graves Motorsport team. The championship will again support the British Touring Car Championship (BTCC) at seven events in 2022 in which the team will use the season to build into their intended debut season of the BTCC in 2023.
Photo Credit : Jacob Ebrey Photography