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Max Coates Blog: “A Great Feeling To Taste Champagne Again”

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I have fond memories and ones to forget from racing at Thruxton in 2010. It was my first race in cars and at that point I was still learning to drive a car, never mind the Ginetta G40 Junior. Last year I finished 18th and then 17th which was right at the back. Because of this I went into Thruxton this year with a huge amount of excitement because it was the first time I could drive the track properly and really attack it whereas last year l couldn't.

Friday practice was back to normal and we had two 30 minute sessions in which to find a set-up that would give us a quick time in qualifying and a strong race setup. The first session was all about learning the track and finding a base set-up. All didn't go according to plan; I was outside the top ten and felt a bit frustrated. The second session was going well; I was lying 3rd or 4th and then had a massive fuel surge issue which meant there was no point being on track. At this point I retired back to the pits to analyse the day's action.

Having done that I felt confident that I had the pace indicated by the early laps I had done in the second session. In the Saturday free practice session I tried a qualifying technique with another driver and it really did not work. I ended up getting caught in lots of traffic and in the end couldn't get the desired effect due to the fast nature of Thruxton. So in all three session leading up to qualifying I had been outside the top ten but I still had a confidence that told me I could battle for a top 3 qualifying position. I managed to put the 4th best lap in quite quickly and remained there for the rest of the session. My times were consistent but I could not match those of the leaders. Trying as hard as I could I narrowly missed out on a top three spot for both races but was happy to take 4th on the clean side of the grid.

I was keen to make a good start in the first race and was aiming to move up to 3rd at the first corner. I managed that but then saw a big blue car in my left hand side mirror. I gave it the room and fell back to 4th. The blue car belonged to Myles Collins who made it very difficult to pass. I was trying to get past him without losing too much time to the leaders. However I missed the opportunity on the first lap and got caught in the safety car period behind Myles. It took me three laps to finally make the pass which I did by getting a good drive exiting the final corner and out braking him into the first corner. It took me two laps to pull away significantly and then I started pushing hard to catch both Seb and George. I was catching them a lot in the closing laps but not enough to make a move. I finished 3rd, my first podium of 2011 and was happy to reward the team and sponsors with such a result. It was a great feeling to taste the champagne again and it wetted my appetite for more podiums.

In the second race I made another good start. This time I made the move stick for 3rd and attacked for 2nd. I couldn't quite manage it so tried to stay with the front two. I did for two laps then I made three mistakes which cost me quite a lot of time. The car didn't feel as good after three or four laps; I think it might have been because the tyres were going off or when I hit the kerbs at the final corner the tracking moved and the handling characteristics changed. I wasn't fast enough to catch the leaders but held on to clinch 3rd and another podium.

Overall I felt the weekend went well. I can't complain with two podiums, but I need to start winning a few if I am going to make a serious title bid.

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It's now been quite a long time since my last race at Thruxton; I have been hard at work with AS level exams and now am focussing on my racing. My time has been taken up with preparing the race transporter for the meetings to come and finding more sponsorship. I have not been out in the car since Thruxton like many of my other rivals but as ever I will go with only one thing in mind, victory.

Until next time,


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