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Max Coates Blog

Max Coates Blog: Podium Highlight Of Fighting Brands Weekend

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Max Coates (Photo Credit: Jakob Ebrey Photography)

Max Coates (Photo Credit: Jakob Ebrey Photography)

This was the second time we visited the Brands Hatch circuit in Kent this year and this time we were to race on the GP variation, this track layout goes out through a forest with some very fast corners. I really enjoyed the section of the track and got to grips with it in the second free practice session.

Last time I was at the GP circuit it was very wet and I have fond memories of the race, this time I was hoping to be back on the podium.
The weekend started well with my best Friday morning session of the year. I finished up 7th in the first session which was excellent. We only did about 6 flying laps so I didn't really learn very much in the first session. The track is so fast round the back and this took some perfecting.

In the second session I came home 8th and felt that my tires were starting to lose performance. I had learnt the track well and round the Indy part of the circuit I was quick but was losing time at Surtees and in the GP loop. I needed to attack the corners around the back and take lots of kerb and in some cases grass which can be seen quite clearly in the race two TV coverage.

The Saturday morning free practice session didn't go as well as the day before as I ended up 9th. However I knew that the tires were going off so wasn't too worried. I knew that I was in the fight for 6th or 7th on the grid.

Qualifying was always going to be a difficult one. It was all going to be about getting the laps in as quickly as possible. I started well out of the blocks and pushed hard from lap two, I was the seventh fastest car when the red flag came out for Ollie Chadwick's spin so I knew I was doing ok. I got the laps in early and was 3rd at one stage.

When I went back out I had a lap of warming tires, and then three laps to go for it and improve my time. My first lap went well and I improved on my first run time by a few hundredths of a second. The next lap didn't go according to plan and I made a mistake somewhere so I knew my last and final lap was going to be crucial. I pushed as hard as I could in the first two sectors and knew I was at least three tenths up by the time I hit the first corner in the GP loop. I then came up behind William Palmer who slowed down a lot more than I was expecting resulting in me loosing that lap. As that was going to be my good qualifier I slipped back down the order and finished qualifying in 11th and 10th for my races. I knew that I had the race pace because I was so quick so early and also knew that I had two consistent times. I also knew that two tenths of a second was the difference between 11th and 7th so I knew my one lap pace wasn't a mile away either. Likewise the second race time needed only 5 tenths of a second to be 5th.

The first races started well, but William Foster in front didn't. This got me sandwiched between him and Patrick McClughan, I then selected the outside line into Druids and got myself up into 7th from 12th. On lap four George Gamble went inside Sennan Fielding and both crashed. George went into the barrier but Sennan was just on the side of the track, I had to avoid him. On lap 7 Tom Howard and Jake Giddings had a coming together and spun. I went one way to avoid Tom and then he came back right in front of me. I passed him side by side and then nearly hit Giddy as he came back across the track. I then had to fend off Charlie Robertson for the last few laps; he didn't really give me such a hard time so I finished 3rd. I was absolutely chuffed.

Max Coates (Photo Credit: Jakob Ebrey Photography)

Coates was "absolutely chuffed" with his third place in race one

So for the second race I was confident I could repeat the performance. I started well again and selected the same line into druids with the same effect; I finished the first lap 7th. I benefitted from Patrick and Seb Morris having an altercation and then was passed by Niall Murray. He came up the inside into Surtees and just tapped the side of the car, it put me wide and he was away. I could keep him behind but once he was in front I couldn't stay with him. Near the end of the race Myles Collins spun and I got through, I had to defend from him on the last lap but came home 6th. This meant I was back to 5th in the championship, just four points behind Niall on drop scores.

The tires went off in the final race of the weekend; I had no front end grip and was having to drive the car with the rear end. It wasn't quick but it was the fastest way to drive it.

So now I am still 5th in the championship, I am not far off Niall so all I need to do is beat him and all the rest of them.

Silverstone is one of my favourite tracks, if not my favourite. All there is not much to the national layout it is one I have thoroughly enjoyed in the past. I am really excited to be able to drive around there so can't wait until this weekend.

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The Checkered Flag was set up in August 2009 and is dedicated to providing independent daily news and features from around the world of motorsport.
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