In sweltering conditions, Team Pyro’s Coates set the fastest lap time of anyone during this afternoon’s close-fought qualifying session which ended with the fastest 12 drivers covered by less than a second.
Coates’s best lap of one minute, 22.416 seconds equalled a dizzying average speed of 102.91mph and guaranteed him pole for the first of tomorrow’s two races – its grid decided by each driver’s fastest qualifying time.
However it was just 0.069s up on Westbourne Motorsport’s James Dorlin in second and only 0.089s clear of Pyro team-mate Daniel Rowbottom (Kidderminster) in third.
Coates’s closest championship rivals – WDE Motorsport’s Rivett and Pyro’s Jack McCarthy who are currently tying for second in the standings – qualified fourth and sixth fastest. They were split by WDE’s Dan Zelos in fifth.
The order was slightly different however for race two’s grid tomorrow – decided by each driver’s second fastest lap time in qualifying.
On top this time was Rivett with a lap in 1m22.581s – just 0.034s ahead of Dorlin, again in second.
Coates was third with Zelos fourth while a career-best fifth in her MRM team’s car was a jubilant Jade Edwards, the daughter of former Clio Cup Champion Jim Edwards Jnr. Sixth, the best for him so far too, was Matrix Motorsport’s Michael Epps.
Coates commented: “I was helped by a ‘tow’ when I got into the slipstream of a couple of my team-mates but the car just had great pace on its own anyway. P1 and P3 put us in a great position to build on the points situation tomorrow.
“The thing to watch for in the races will be tyre management – it always is around here because of the high loads on the cars – but I feel we’re in good shape there as well.”
Rivett said: “That’s more like it – we took a big knock at Donington last time out but Renault Sport were quick to deliver us a new shell and the WDE team have done the business in building it up into a great car. It’d be great to repay them by leaving tomorrow night back in the championship lead.”
Dorlin, winner of both races at Donington three weeks ago and currently fourth in the table, said: “We’re right up there, just like I hoped for. Two front row starts is good for me and I won here last year as well so, fingers crossed, we’re going to be right in the hunt again tomorrow.”
Sunday’s two races – rounds five and six of the 2018 Renault UK Clio Cup – will take place at 10:45 and 15:10. Broadcasting the action live will be ITV4.
Leading grid positions, Round 5, Thruxton
1. Max Coates (Team Pyro), 1m22.416s (avg. 102.91mph)
2. James Dorlin (Westbourne Motorsport), +0.069s
3. Daniel Rowbottom (Team Pyro), +0.089s
4. Paul Rivett (WDE Motorsport), +0.129s
5. Dan Zelos (WDE Motorsport), +0.348s
6. Jack McCarthy (Team Pyro), +0.444s
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Leading grid positions, Round 6, Thruxton
1. Paul Rivett (WDE Motorsport), 1m22.581s
2. James Dorlin (Westbourne Motorsport), +0.034s
3. Max Coates (Team Pyro), +0.147s
4. Dan Zelos (WDE Motorsport), +0.208s
5. Jade Edwards (MRM), +0.538s
6. Michael Epps (Matrix Motorsport), +0.593s
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