The event – the International Clio Cup Finale organised by Renault Sport Racing at France’s Formula 1 circuit Paul Ricard – was contested by more than 90 drivers who this year contested other Clio Cup championships in France, Germany, Italy, Spain and China.
Despite having never seen the circuit before, Belfast’s Young and North Yorkshireman Coates were fastest in timed qualifying and then won their two opening races between them.
From there they lined up first and second on the grid for the grand final and after making perfect getaways comfortably held their positions throughout the race.
Young, who only turned 17 a few days before, will receive a brand new Mégane R.S. as his prize.
A protégé of 2018 British Touring Car Champion Colin Turkington, Young commented: “It was important I made the most of pole position in the Final.
“I just managed to keep Max behind – he was pushing like mad so I had to push even harder and somehow I’ve come out on top. A big ‘thank you’ to my team, MRM, for their support – I wouldn’t be here without them.”
His triumph caps a remarkable year of UK Clio Cup competition for him and the MRM squad. Last autumn they won the inaugural Clio Cup Junior title together (for drivers aged 14-17) but Young then had to suspend his racing ambitions to concentrate on his school exams.
Once done, he was able to join the senior UK Clio Cup at the mid-way stage of this season and was an immediate front-runner. More promising results followed at Rockingham and Silverstone and, still aged 16 at the season finale on the daunting Brands Hatch GP, he stunned the paddock and many of the BTCC’s teams and fans by becoming the youngest driver history to qualify on pole position for a UK Clio Cup race.
Meanwhile Coates had mixed emotions about his second place finish in the big race at Paul Ricard having also come close to winning this year’s UK Clio Cup title (he won four of the 18 rounds and also achieved an unrivalled five pole position starts).
He said: “I felt like I had the pace to challenge Jack and was biding my time, but there was a safety car period and at the re-start he just got the jump on me and that was it. I had to defend my position a bit after that and he was gone. Second here having also come so close to winning the UK Clio Cup title… still it’s been a great year with lots of wins and podiums.”
Mention should also go to Young’s MRM team-mate Brett Lidsey who ran as high as fourth in the International Final before retiring his car with accident damage.