Max Coates had a solid, if unspectacular, weekend in the latest rounds of the 2011 Ginetta Junior Championship. The Yorkshireman was hoping for some podium success at his home circuit Croft, but left with battling fifth and tenth place finishes.

Friday testing saw the Richmond Sixth Form College student struggle to find front-running pace in his Pyeroy backed Ginetta G40 Junior. A strong run in wet conditions in Saturday morning practice meant Max and the Coates Garage run team were confident of good results in qualifying, but they ended up frustrated, qualifying just eleventh and twelfth.

Max, who had new sponsorship from Lightwater Valley theme park for the weekend, said “The car felt as good as it had done all weekend, I thought I was driving it well but I ended up qualifying 11th and 12th which I'm quite disappointed with.  I want to be right at the top of the timesheets.”

MSA Academy Elite Athlete Max made a great start in the first race, which was broadcast live on ITV4, with Max having the onboard camera on his car. The Scorton based driver managed to avoid the chaos at the first corner to gain places, before cutting inside three more at the next corner and another one down the back straight. This moved Max and his Regency Graphics Print Services sponsored car into fifth place, which he held to the finish for more vital championship points.

He reflected: “I made a great start and opted for the wide line on entry to the first corner. Starting from 12th meant I was going to have to avoid some sort of incident at the first corner. I took a cautious approach at the first corner then managed to cut back up the inside of a few cars when Niall Murray came back across the track. I was then behind Mikey Day down the back straight but had the run on him and made the move stick. I then tried to keep Mikey behind and was trying to get on level terms with the front four. I was not quick enough to do so and as a result I had a relatively easy race. Tom Howard caught me on the last lap and yellow flags at Sunny helped me keep him behind. He had a look at the last corner but I kept it on the inside. He then moved to get the switch back but I made sure he couldn’t do that either.”

“Overall that first race went well, 5th is a great result from 12th and keeps my title hopes alive.”

The second race, also broadcast live, started with a bang for Max, as he was pushed wide at the first corner, before being knocked around in both the next two corners. Entering Sunny In, another driver spun in front of Max and tagged him into a spin. Rejoining at the back, the A Level student pushed hard and gained a couple of places to finish tenth.

Coates, who now lies sixth in the points heading to the next round at Snetterton, concluded: “My start this time was awful, I got pushed into Patrick [McClughan] at the first corner then lost a place to Seb [Morris]. I then got hit going into the right hander which put me into the wrong direction. By this point I was back to nearly last. I then got tagged at Sunny in when Declan Jones tried to pass me, he spun and clipped me with the rear of the car. I was pretty much last then. I could still see the gaggle of cars at the front but couldn’t catch them. I made a few places up as others came off but not being able to catch the pack was frustrating.”

“The second race did not go according to plan, at the moment I will drop it at the end of the season so maybe it won’t be so bad. Next up is Snetterton on the new 300 layout which should be really exciting.”