08/06/2017

Coates targeting double everything in front of home crowd at Croft

Max Coates believes he will return to top form at his home circuit of Croft this weekend as he seeks to break back into the top three in the Renault UK Clio Cup standings.
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A win and a third place at Donington Park in April had moved the North Yorkshire driver up to second place in the table and to within just 15 points of leader Mike Bushell.

However a troubled time at Thruxton and what he describes as a ‘topsy turvy’ weekend at Oulton Park mean he has since slipped back to fourth, behind WDE tem-mates Lee Pattison and Paul Rivett to 86 points adrift of Bushell who continues to lead.

With 32 points awarded for a win the 23-year-old therefore knows the importance of doing well at Croft – a circuit which last year brought him his first win in the category.

“Croft is my circuit!” commented Coates whose home crowd produced perhaps the biggest cheer for any driver in 2016 when he took that maiden win.

“I just seem to always go well there and I don’t think that’s because I’m local – others have driven it a lot more than me.

“The support is always incredible – in fact last year went a bit bonkers! Ideally this time I need two pole positions, two wins and two fastest laps – that sounds a bit greedy but I make no apologies. It’s what I’m going for. I know I’m fast around there.”

Coates acknowledges that with eight rounds to go after Croft (two each at Snetterton, Rockingham, Silverstone and Brands Hatch) catching Bushell looks to be a tall order but he isn’t put off.

He added: “It does need people to stop him from putting it on pole all the time! That is giving him an edge at the start of races and allowing him to do well, although credit to him – he does have a knack of finding those extra few tenths of a second that no-one else can at the moment.

“But we saw last year he’s not invincible and I also think each driver has better circuits than others – he played to his strengths at Thruxton but, without over-thinking things, I can see why having studied it a bit. I think it can come back my way at Croft.”

Coates also believes if the weather is half decent this weekend that the UK Clio Cup’s qualifying and race lap records around Croft will be annihilated.

He explained: “The Michelin tyre we’ve moved to in 2017 takes a little bit longer to ‘come in’ but when it does the grip is higher and the performance holds on for longer – the section from Tower through the Jim Clark Esses and down to Sunny In is going to be very fast in one of these cars.

“Both records are in the mid-one minute, 31 seconds bracket – I could see it going into the 30s.”