NORTH YORKSHIRE racing driver Max Coates is considering his options for 2021 after finishing the 2020 Mini Challenge UK with a strong performance at Brands Hatch – including his maiden pole position.

Coates, 26, from Scorton, came fifth in the first race despite starting on pole and fourth in the second during the final rounds of the championship at the weekend weekend, leaving him sixth overall.

“It was great to take our first pole position of the season at Brands Hatch and it felt like we were going to end on a real high,” he said. “Unfortunately, it didn’t go that way in race one and that was all my own doing. I’m pleased with our solid results this weekend and we round out the championship sixth overall.

“It’s been a pleasure to be part of the Elite Motorsport team this year and I look forward to developing my relationship with them.

“This season has been an odd one, the events have lacked the atmosphere I am familiar with at the BTCC and I am hopeful that we can welcome my partners and the fans of the sport back trackside in 2021. I’m hugely grateful to Primex Plastics Ltd, JiC Transport, NGK Spark Plugs, Cirrus Research, CTL Dental, Jackson and Graham Accountants, Teesside Karting and all my sponsors who allow me to continue to pursue my racing career.”

He added: “I’ll take some time to consider some options for 2021 and make a decision on what racing we plan to do next year alongside my partners.”

The drivers were met with mixed conditions in Friday testing with Coates in the top six in both practice sessions. The rain came for qualifying and Coates put in the fastest lap of the session with five minutes remaining to take his maiden pole position in the series. With teammate Max Bird in second and also pole positions in the Ginetta Junior and Supercup series for the Elite Motorsport team, the atmosphere was positive.

It was to be the first wet race of the season, but the car didn’t make the best start. Coates dropped behind his teammate into turn one and then had a huge slide which nearly put him into the gravel. He fell back to sixth place on the opening lap but battled back through to fourth after a third tour of the Brands Hatch Indy circuit. He then began to apply pressure on the podium positions but couldn’t find a way through. His pace fell as the race progressed and he became under pressure from behind, eventually losing a position back to fifth where he remained to the chequered flag.

Race two was shown live on ITV4 as part of the BTCC programme and its title showdown. Coates started sixth and immediately set about gaining positions from the start. Over the first two laps he battled with other drivers and was in fifth place as the race entered a lengthy safety car period. With just a lap to go after the safety car, Coates battled for the final podium spot but came out in fourth.