Max Coates has set his sights on the outright podium positions in the Renault UK Clio Cup following a hugely positive weekend at Donington Park, in which the Yorkshireman secured a maiden pole position and continued his 100% winning record in the Graduates Cup.
With a double class victory and best overall finish of sixth under their belts in the Clio Cup season opener at Brands Hatch, Coates and the Ciceley Motorsport team stunned the paddock in qualifying at Donington by setting the pace by over two tenths of a second.
Coates would be unable to fully capitalise on the pole position in race one with poor launches off the line at the start and then the restart following a red flag, but he showed his pace once again as he set the fastest lap of the race en-route to a fourth place finish.
The Yorkshireman followed that up with another battling performance in race two as he converted sixth on the grid to fifth at the flag, which later became fourth post-race when the on-the-road victor was excluded from the results.
Leaving the weekend fifth in the overall championship standings and 48 points clear at the top of the Graduates Cup, Coates expressed his sheer delight at the fast progress he and the Ciceley team have made in their first seasons in the championship.
“I’ve got to be happy with the weekend overall. I came in wanting two top fives including a podium, but we’re just one step off it,” Coates told TCF.
“We showed with pole for race one that we have the pace to be the fastest on the grid, but we made a change for that race to help me which didn’t quite work.
“We’re learning all the time though, the team is new to the series, I’m new to the series and I think that this weekend we’ve found what makes this car tick.
“To be in this position already, showing the pace to be on pole and battle at the front, is a really good starting point for us and a really positive sign for the season ahead.
“Once I’ve done a bit more learning on how to get these things off the line, I don’t think it will be too long before we’re climbing onto the top three podium steps and hopefully the top one.”
Next up for Coates is a long awaited return to Thruxton, a circuit he last raced at in 2012 when he secured a double class podium in the Ginetta GT4 Supercup, and the Yorkshireman is looking forward to trying to carry on the momentum from his positive Clio start.
“Thruxton is a circuit that I haven’t raced much at in recent years, but I had four podiums around there in two years in Ginetta’s,” he added.
“It’s a circuit I really enjoy, I love the high-speed nature of it. On the back of everything so far building up, I’m really excited about going to Thruxton.”