Support Our Paras Racing is pleased to confirm that Max Coates will pilot the team’s second race car for the remainder of the 2015 Dunlop British Touring Car Championship.
The 21-year-old, from Scorton in North Yorkshire, will partner Zurich-based Derek Palmer, the 28-year-old from Lesmahagow, in the team’s two Infiniti Q50s. Coates will make his BTCC race debut on his ‘home’ circuit at Croft this weekend (June 27/28).
The Mallory Park-based team’s race cars are prepared by injured ex-servicemen from the Parachute Regiment, with all team profits being donated to Support Our Paras, the official Regiment charity.
“I’m over the moon to be joining Support Our Paras Racing in the BTCC,” Coates said today. “The structure of the team is unique and it really is all about supporting the Paras. It’s an honour to represent the Paras on track. The guys are learning a lot very quickly, but they have teamwork and desire to succeed in abundance.
“I’m under no illusion as to how hard the racing will be. This is the first part of a longterm plan with the team and I am very excited about opportunities both now and in the future.
“Racing in the BTCC will be a dream come true. There has been a lot of hard work, from a number of people, behind the scenes over the last five years since I joined the TOCA paddock. Kicking off my BTCC career at Croft, my home circuit, will be something special.”
The talented young Yorkshireman has already impressed during appearances in a number of support races which form part of the BTCC race weekend.
After competing in karts at national level, Coates graduated to the Ginetta Junior Championship, before stepping up to Ginetta G50 and the Ginetta GT Supercup in 2012. He immediately impressed, racking up five wins in the opening nine rounds which put him in contention for the title. Unfortunately, budget constraints forced him to withdraw from the running, before returning to win again at Croft. He also contested the final round at Brands Hatch in a Ginetta G55.
In 2013, after an eight-month layoff, Coates returned to compete in one round of the Ginetta GT Supercup, again at Croft. After qualifying fifth, he duly turned this into three top six finishes, including a podium in the third and final race of the weekend.
Last year, Coates made two ‘guest’ appearances, one in the Porsche Carrera Cup GB, and the other in Ginetta G55. His Porsche outing at Donington saw him again show his versatility, finishing fifth and sixth, while his Ginetta race at Croft resulted in another top six finish.
Coates’ appointment was greeted by Support Our Paras Racing team principal, Derek Palmer Snr.
“I’m delighted to welcome Max to the team,” he said. “We know what he’s capable of, and he has bags of potential which we’re confident we’ll be able to nurture and develop.
“It’s an exciting appointment for the team, and we’re looking forward to working together for the rest of the season, and into 2016.”
And SOPR operations director, Jim McGill, believes the decision to place Coates in the second car, which will carry the Yorkshireman’s preferred No71, will finally allow the team to establish a period of stability.
“Placing Max in the second car is a significant boost for the team, and will allow us, finally, to focus on bringing stability to the fledgling team,” McGill said.
“It’s widely known the challenges we’ve faced throughout the opening four BTCC race weekends, but now we can concentrate on developing a unified team which has two young drivers with bags of potential.
“It has always been my goal to have two young drivers in the cars who will grow and develop with the team as it establishes itself and becomes more competitive.
“We have always acknowledged the BTCC is a tough championship, and we accept we’re serving our apprenticeship in the full glare of publicity.
“Now though we have a group of guys ready to knuckle down for the longterm, build through the second half of the season and be ready to deliver results.”