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Max Coates Blog: “One Mistake Cost Me A Podium Chance”

4 Mins read

I was really looking forward to Oulton Park. Last year I went well here once I realised the key ingredients to a good lap. All the corners here are really important as each one leads to a long straight which you need to be fast on.

Friday testing at Oulton Park went badly. The car and I just didn't feel right, something meant that the car and circuit didn't flow right and I was well down the order. I ended up 12th overall and was frustrated with my pace. I was fighting for around two seconds a lap and I couldn't find it anywhere. It wasn't that the lap felt slow to drive, it was just that the laps weren't quick and didn't flow.

I went out on Saturday morning for free practice with a new set of tyres on the front to cure the under steer I had. At the start I was about 5 seconds off the pace but as the releasing agent wore off the tires they became quicker. The last two laps were better and I was getting back to where I wanted to be. Qualifying was next and it started really well, I was in about 4th, which I would have been happy with but as the session went on I fell down the order. In my final lap I managed to find four tenths. I really focused hard and nailed each corner but was still a considerable margin off the lead. I had qualified 7th and 8th for my races respectively.

In the first race I made a bad start, I didn't lose any places but didn't gain any. However I gained one place due to Tom Howard having brake issues. I was sat right behind Brad Bailey and kept trying to make a move. I made a mistake out of Cascades and lost time but quickly made it back up around half distance. I then made a move into the first corner on the last lap. I got a bit sideways as I went through but managed not to touch Brad. He ran wide onto the grass on the exit and when he returned to the track he tapped my rear quarter. This sent me spinning towards the Armco barrier. I was heading backwards but spun it around and glanced off the barrier. I was still doing between 70 and 80 mph when I hit the wall as the grass didn't slow me down. I cruised round to finish in 17th. I felt fine in the car but when I got out I started to feel a bit dizzy, after a while

I calmed down when I sat in the awning with a drink.

The team then did a sterling job to fix the car before the race later in the day. The bonnet had broken and the front right hand corner had gone, fortunately a fan found the missing part and we fibre glassed it back on. The car needed to be tracked up as it was pointing in the wrong direction.

Race two started with a hard decision tyre wise. We chose our one set of full wets which was the wrong choice; I knew it immediately as I left the pits. There was a dry line right round and I knew it would only be a limited period of time before Niall Murray on his slicks came through.

This time I made a much better start beating Sennan into the first corner. I then made another two places up at Cascades before passing Tom Howard at the same corner a few laps in. Once I was up to 3rd I felt comfortable and was sizing up Will Foster for a move. I could see George Gamble just ahead and didn't want him to get too far away. At this stage of the race the car felt quick and I knew I could catch George if I got through. I had Mikey Day right behind me who was pressuring me hard, going into the hairpin I left a car width up the inside, I didn't think Mikey was going to make a move and I was trying to line up Will.

Unfortunately Mikey did put his car up the inside and we made contact at the apex. This gave me three major issues, the first was I'd lost place to Mikey, Tom and Declan Jones, the second was that I had lost touch with Will to battle for a podium and the third was that the tracking got put out. This made the car quite slow in a straight line and as a result I struggled to make moves to get back through those positions I lost. I did however manage to get straight back past Mikey at the next corner, around the outside at Knickerbrook, and then managed to get Declan on the exit to the hairpin. When Niall Murray came through on slicks, the right tire choice, he rattled Declan and I made the most of the opportunity to get through.

I then tried to stick with Niall but he was just too quick, I aimed to catch Tom Howard who was just up ahead but as I got to within passing distance Charlie Robertson caught me and began to try and get through. I defended as much as I could but he got past at Knickerbrook and when he did I nearly lost it. Because of this I lost a lot of time to the two Tollbar cars and Charlie in front. I just aimed to catch them but never did and came over the line 7th.

Overall I wasn't happy with the race because one mistake cost me a podium chance. I felt that the car was working well at the beginning and believe I could have challenged George Gamble for a podium if all had gone well.

Next up is Croft which is my home meeting; hopefully I will get the support of the locals and be able to give them a win to cheer about. I really need to be on the podium all the time now to remount a championship bid.

Thanks for reading,


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