NORTH YORKSHIRE’S Mini Challenge race winner Max Coates will continue in the championship for 2021 with Graves Motorsport, a new team to the Mini JCW class supporting the British Touring Car Championship.

Coates, from Scorton, has retained the sponsorship support of Primex Plastics, JiC Transport, Gala Performance, RGPS, NGK Spark Plugs and Jackson & Graham Accountants as well as new signing Boss Fabrications. His new 2021 livery will be launched in the build up to the new racing season, which is set to get underway at Snetterton on June 12/13.

Graves Motorsport are based in Colchester, Essex whereby Coates will partner Bradley Gravett, son of 1990 BTCC Champion Robb, in the team. Established in 2015, they have progressed through from grassroots motorsport to the BTCC support paddock winning multiple championships along the way.

With firm ambitions to participate on the BTCC itself in the near future, signing Max and Bradley is the next step towards achieving that. The Mini Challenge visits Snetterton, Brands Hatch, Oulton Park, Knockhill, Donington Park and Coates’ home circuit, Croft, during the 2021 season, in which it remains as a support series to the BTCC events.

Last year was Coates’ debut season in the Mini Challenge and he got off to the best start possible with a race win at the opening round at Donington Park. He signed off the season with a pole position at a wet Brands Hatch Indy circuit in October last year and will hope to continue that form in the new season.

Coates said: “I’m looking forward to a new season of Mini Challenge JCW racing this year and hope that we can continue the success from 2020. I’m delighted to sign with Graves Motorsport, it’s very clear that our future goals align, and the essence of a family team really resonates with me.

"The plan is to mount a serious championship challenge, so our focus now is on preparing for the start of the season and starting it as I did in 2020.

"Unlike last year, I’m looking forward to spectators, friends, family, and sponsors being back trackside with me in 2021, something I missed massively from the racing experience last season. On a separate note, I’d like to thank Eddie, Rich, Martin, and Owen at Elite Motorsport, as well as my dad, Rob, and friend Gary for their support and efforts working on the car last year.”

Race action continued last weekend with various local competitors in action up and down the country including the Historic Sports Car Club meeting at Snetterton in Norfolk.

There, Sam Harrison from Ripon took a win in class B of the HSCC Trader Trophy Formula Ford race in his 1971-specification Elden Mk 8 before claiming second place later in the day. He also scored a best result of fourth in the Historic Formula Ford 1600cc Championship race.

In the Historic Formula Ford 2000cc Championship race, Wetherby driver John Wilkinson posted a 16th place result in both races in his Reynard SF79 with Stockton’s Gary Mitchell following him home in 17th and 18th places in his Royale RP27. Peter Smith from Ripon claimed a pair of runner-up spots in his 1600cc Ford Lotus Cortina in class K2 of the HSCC Historic Touring Car Championship also.

At Oulton Park in Cheshire, three local drivers were contesting the BARC North West meeting in the Caterham Graduates Sigmax class and saw Darlington’s Gareth Cordey claim a best result of seventh in the opening race whilst for Hartlepool driver Stephen Arnell, race two saw his best result of tenth whilst Andrew Sagar from Billingham finished in 13th place in the same outing.

On two wheels, many British Superbike Championship regulars were out in force at the No Limits race meeting at Donington and most, including Durham’s Chrissy Rouse, were at the cutting edge of the leaderboard as they prepared for the new season.

However, Northallerton BMW rider Andrew Stockdale took a best result of 14th in the second Pirelli Super Series 1000 race with Darlington’s Richie Harrison posting a best result of 12th in the opening race.

Durham rider James Alderson scored a best result of second on his 675cc Triumph in the 600cc event in preparation for his British Championship assault which starts in June.