Max Coates leaves Donington Park a race winner, ensuring three different drivers won the first three Quaife MINI CHALLENGE JCW races to kick-off what could be a competitive campaign.

The Elite Motorsport driver started sixth, but wasted no time in working his way to the front, just ahead of MINI CHALLENGE Cooper champion Kyle Reid who kept him honest all race. Meanwhile Ant Whorton-Eales leaves the weekend with 134 points and the title lead.

A smart start for reverse grid polesitter Callum Newsham saw him hold the lead into turn one, as the lightning Kyle Reid rocketed into second by the end of the opening lap. Reid was on the charge and rubbed his way into the lead at Coppice on the second lap, past Newsham.

In doing so, Reid had run slightly wide, allowing Max Coates to leapfrog both drivers before the final chicane. Now with clear air in front of them, Coates and Reid looked to build up the gap, as the race one and two front runners started to make their charge. Ant Whorton-Eales was the first to do so and with still three quarters of the race remaining, scythed into third.

Despite being a rookie, Reid clearly meant business, setting the fastest lap and was initially working with Coates in order to build up the gap to AW-E and Tom Rawlings, who had also made his way through the pack.

The kindness would not last though and with seven minutes remaining on the clock Reid took the initiative. Coates was not one to easily give up easily, ensuring he made his car as wide possible. Coates, who took victories at Donington in 2019 knew his strength and despite losing time during the middle sector, placed his car expertly into the chicane and Redgate to remain in front across the line for his first victory in the series.

So close yet so far for Reid, who still picked up the rookie class win as Ant Whorton-Eales held off Graduate class winner Tom Rawlings for the final podium place and thus the championship lead.

New race winner Max Coates, was in a boisterous mood;

“It all went down at turn one. Managed to get around the outside of Ant and then I just had to pick my way through. Picked off Callum and Kyle in one go and then had to sort it out. Kyle was definitely stronger in some areas and I was stronger in others, weirdly where I was strong in race one/two, I was weak in that one and visa versa.

Coates didn’t want to give away his secret to greater race pace but added; “I want to say thanks and well done to the marshals. They did well to help prevent any safety cars. Thank you as well to all my sponsors who have stuck by me so we can carry on racing.”

Kyle Reid spoke about his first overall podium;

“I got a really good start but had an issue in turn one and collected Ant Whorton-Eales. I put my sensible head on, ‘I’ll work with Coates and I’ll go with him for the whole race, battling it out at the end.’ We got fastest lap, so we got pace in the car, pace in me. This is my first weekend with a team like EXCELR8, what an experience.”

Rounding out the podium and taking the championship lead was Ant Whorton-Eales;

“Interesting day. They say they’re baby Touring Cars and it was a baby touring car race. We had a really good launch off the line, but had a massive hit in the right rear, I’m thankful the rim held together. JamSport boys did a great job to get it out and a team 3-4 with young Tom Rawlings on my heels, pushing me along.”

Best of the rest would be Lewis Brown who, in tandem with Dan Zelos worked his way to the front for a fifth place finish, leaving the weekend second in the standings. Zelos, who had been forced to grasstrack after a frantic start to the race, will be pleased to have worked his way back to the sharp end and continue his championship charge.

Another driver back where he belongs was Max Bird. The Elite Motorsport driver had had a troubled start to the weekend, making up ground in the final race to secure 7th ahead of Jack Davidson.

The beauty of the reverse grid format is that it gives drivers a chance to shine and despite dropping some places from his new starting position, James MacIntyre did more than enough to showcase his defensive skills for the ITV4 crowd, securing ninth from Callum Newsham.

William Newnham would finish 11th while overtaker of the race would go to Lewis Galer jumping from 20th to 12th over the 20 minute showcase. Rounding out the top fifteen would be Brad Hutchinson, Ryan Faulconbridge and Director Cup winner Ryan Dignan.