Team HARD driver Coates set his best time – 51.695 seconds – in the second of the day’s two free practice sessions.
MRM’s Jack Young, fastest in the morning opening practice session, was next up (52.028s) ahead of Coates’ team-mate Ethan Hammerton in third (52.337s).
Coates, one of this year’s title favourites, said: “We applied what we’d worked on during FP1 and I’m very proud of that lap.
“What’s even more encouraging is that we were able to set some other quick times which bodes well for both our qualifying and race pace tomorrow which is when it will really matter."
Meanwhile less than two tenths covered the next seven drivers down to tenth position…
Fourth was Brands Hatch local Brett Lidsey (MRM) and fifth Westbourne Motorsport’s Ben Colburn. Ben Davis completed the top six on a strong day for the MRM squad.
The Clio Cup drivers will next be on track for the championship’s first qualifying session of the year at 11:25-11:55 tomorrow. That will be followed by the opening round of the season – a 20 lap race at 16:25.
Round two takes place on Sunday at 13:20 and will be broadcast LIVE on free-to-air television channels ITV4 and ITV4 HD and also live-streamed to mobile devices by ITV.
Leading times, official free practice, Brands Hatch Indy, Fri 5 April
1. Max Coates (Team HARD), 51.695s (84.12mph)
2. Jack Young (MRM), +0.333s
3. Ethan Hammerton (Team HARD), +0.642s
4. Brett Lidsey (MRM), +0.680s
5. Ben Colburn (Westbourne M’sport), +0.705s
6. Ben Davis (MRM), +0.804s
7. Anton Spires (Westbourne M’sport), +0.809s
8. Aaron Thompson (Westbourne M’sport), +0.834s
9. Jade Edwards (Team HARD), +0.841s
10. Finlay Robinson (Westbourne M’sport), +0.861s
CLICK HERE for full times.