Croft’s local fan favourite Max Coates returned to Century Motorsport for Rounds 12, 13 and 14 of the Ginetta GT Supercup at his home circuit, Croft last weekend. Coates who put on an impressive display in theplayer.co.uk supported machine at Brands Hatch at the end of the 2012 season had endured an eight month layoff from the sport since then due to budget restrictions. However, thanks to the support of a number of local sponsors and theplayer.co.uk, Max was able to put a one-weekend deal in place with Century Motorsport to show what he is capable of.
Coates made a good start to his return with an impressive showing in testing before qualifying on Saturday morning earned him fifth on the grid for Saturday afternoon’s race one.
Race one did not get off to the best start as Max struggled to get his Coates Garage supported machine off the line and found himself down in eighth at the end of the opening lap. However Coates put on a fantastic recovery drive over the course of the race to make his way back up to sixth as the chequered flag fell after ten tough laps of competition.
With the finishing positions of race one deciding the starting grid for race two, Coates put theplayer.co.uk machine in sixth on the grid and keen to make his way up the order. Right from the start of the race Max was locked in battle with former Ginetta Junior front runners Andrew Watson and Pepe Massot. With the trio locked in battle for several laps, Massot eventually found a way past at the Hairpin on lap four. However Coates remained very close at all times not allowing the Spaniard to open any advantage. Now running in sixth thanks to some of the front-runners encountering problems, Max mounted a superb challenge to move back ahead of Massot out of Sunny Inn and once again was now on the tail of Andrew Watson. On the final lap of the race Max tried several moves on the Irish driver before a drag race out of tower allowed Coates to move just in front into fourth place that he would hold until the chequered flag.
With heavy rain impending over the Yorkshire venue tyre choice was going to be tricky to say the least for Sunday afternoon’s race two. Ginetta’s reverse grid system awarded Max with third on the grid for the race and his best chance of a podium finish in the weekend’s final race. Despite a good start, Coates found himself with nowhere to go at the first corner loosing him a couple of places. Over the next sequence of laps Max put on a superb display of driving and by lap seven was now back up to third position. As was expected at any moment, the impending downpour arrived and soaked the Croft circuit in a matter of minutes. With all cars running on dry slick tyres the race was immediately red flagged and the results declared after 12 laps.
Speaking after the race, a delighted Max Coates summed up his weekend: “It’s been a fantastic weekend, to finish in the top 6 in this championship is special when you’ve been out of the race car for as long as I have. The podium in the final race was the cherry on the cake and I want to dedicate it to my late friend ‘Ben Gautrey’ whose foundation has helped me to race this weekend. At the moment I don’t have the budget to race at Snetterton in about a month’s time but I will be working on some sponsors to try and make that happen so who knows what will happen.”
Century Motorsport Team Principal Nathan Freke acknowledged Max’s impressive performance despite his recent lack of track time: “Max has had a great run this weekend. We were delighted to have him in the car, which we knew would be perfect for him to get a good result after Oulton Park. With the car now once again proven to be a front running challenger, we are eager to find a suitable driver for the rest of the season who can bring us many more podiums in 2013.”