Max Coates hopes that home advantage will play in his favour this weekend as he aims to continue his positive run in the Renault UK Clio Cup at home circuit Croft.
A strong start to his maiden Clio season has seen the Yorkshireman take top ten finishes in all eight races so far this season, finishing sixth or higher on five occasions.
The consistency was capped off by a maiden outright podium finish two weeks ago at Oulton Park, a result that has put Coates in buoyant mood for the fifth meeting of the year.
“Confidence is sky high at the moment. I’m starting to feel really good in the car and knowing how to drive these cars properly,” Coates told The Checkered Flag.
“Getting the podium in race one at Oulton was fantastic, and I felt quicker than the two guys in front, but I didn’t want to risk a move and throw away the podium finish.
“We’ve got the pace, and race two at Oulton probably showed that more, where we climbed from eighth back to fifth and it also showed we’re not afraid to have a go.”
Coates will be looking to use his local advantage to full effect this weekend, with Croft proving to be the only circuit on the calendar at which he has raced for each of the last six consecutive seasons.
A former podium finisher at the track in both a Ginetta G50 and G55 in the GT4 Supercup, the Darlington venue was also the scene for the 22 year old’s BTCC debut twelve months ago.
“The big difference for me is this weekend that I’m not really learning the track, whereas others I haven’t raced at for three or four years,” he commented.
“I don’t know every last detail of the track, I’m still learning things, but we’ve looked at the data today and we’re pretty much on the pace, maybe a tenth here or there to find.
“I know the car now, I know the track, so if I can’t do well here then I need a kicking. Hopefully we’re going to go well.”
Coates’ podium breakthrough last time out has moved him up to fifth in the points and after closing the gap to the top of the standings, the Yorkshireman admits he is reassessing his ambitions for the remainder of the year.
“Everyone is hard to beat in this championship and at the start of the season I wanted to finish in the top five in the championship, win the Graduates and get on the overall podium,” he concluded.
“While we haven’t achieved all that yet naturally, after getting the podium last time out you’ve naturally got to reset your sights and I’d like to be in contention for the title.
“It’s going to be hard and I need to start doing a bit better than I currently am. For me, there was always going to be a turning point from finishing sixth or seventh to taking regular podiums and hopefully we can make that switch now.”