MAX Coates grew up a stone’s throw away from Croft Circuit and the North Yorkshire race car driver can barely contain his excitement to race once again at his local track this weekend.

Coates will be competing in the 2021 MINI Challenge on Saturday and Sunday which is the preamble to the main event where Croft will play host to British Touring, a competition Coates hopes to race in one day.

While it’s always a nice homecoming for Coates, there is business to attend to on the track where he hopes to claw back the deficit to the current leaders in the MINI Challenge. He currently sits sixth in the standings and has conceded that the Championship may well be out of reach at this stage in the campaign. An unfortunate start to the season has given the driver a mountain to climb since.

Coates said: “Round one was one to forget. We had a coming together with another car in the first race and then mechanical problems thereafter so round one was a ‘forget and move on’ round.

“Then the second round we had a podium, good results in every race including a podium and a race win so from then on it’s gone pretty well.

“The rest of it has been on the front. Maybe not quite on the podium but in the mix of that front battle so it’s been a good year after the first round.

“If things would have gone differently then we would have been in the battle for first, second or third in the Championship and realistically that’s where we should be and I think our patience has reflected that.

“It’s a shame that’s what happened at round one. You’ve got to move and you can’t dwell on it too much. It’s happened and I can’t change that so get one with what’s to come.

“I think the chance to win the Championship has, not disappeared, but it’s going to require some people to have misfortune so I think the overall win is probably a little bit far away from us now but a second or third place is still definitely on the cards.

“Croft is next and it’s a track I’ve ran before. We then move to Donnington and I won there in the MINI Challenge and then we move to Brands Hatch which is one of my favourite tracks so I think the last three rounds are definitely my favourite in terms of circuit and there’s no reason I shouldn’t be going to them and not expecting to be right on that podium or winning the race."

A second or third placed finish would represent a very respectable comeback for Coates and he has two more rounds of racing at Donnington and Brands Hatch after this weekend to complete the turnaround.

However, victories at Croft are the priority for the MINI driver and he remains confident of claiming a result on a track that has been kind to him in the past.

“I think the term ‘a kid at Christmas’ is likened to my week” Coates added.

“It’s like the week of Christmas when I’m racing at Croft.

“I love all events but it’s probably my highlight of the year racing at Croft. Unfortunately it didn’t happen last year and in a way I’m glad it didn’t because it would have been affected by Covid and we wouldn’t have had people along. It wouldn’t have been the same experience.

“I’ve got over a hundred people coming this weekend as guests and I can’t wait for that to happen so I’ll love the experience of Croft, good result or bad result.

“Fortunately the last few times we’ve been there, it’s generally been a good result that we’ve come away with.

“It’s always cool being there and seeing people who come every year and remember me from years gone by.

“It’s just a great event, the atmosphere is always good being at Croft. Ticket sales have been up in advance so we’re expecting a really good crowd on Saturday and Sunday.

“I’m sure we’ll see a few familiar faces and I can do them all justice and stand on top of a podium.

“We were fasted when we tested at Croft earlier in the year. History will hopefully speaks volumes for my success at Croft. I think we’ve won every year there when we’ve been in the Clio Cup so I expect to be right at the front and hopefully that will be two race wins.”