Max Coates in the Cupra DSG took a dramatic last lap victory after race long leader Lewis Kent ran out of fuel on the final lap. Coates, an experienced Clio Cup racer, was entering the Touring Car Trophy / TCR UK for the first time, leaving him with a debut to remember at Donington Park.
For Coates, the result was more of an achievement, as he’d never driven the GP circuit at Donington prior to today and he’d been racing in Britcar on Saturday, winning his class with co-driver Guy Colclough, whose DAT Racing Cupra car he took over for this weekend.
As the lights went out, Kent was quickly away, holding the lead around the first corner and breaking away as Max Coates was forced to defend from the fast starting Darrelle Wilson. Coates spent the race chasing down the leader, with the pair swapping fastest laps in the opening half. Kent would eventually secure the two points for fastest lap, until drama on the final lap saw Kent slow in the final sector, handing the win to Coates.
While it might have been his debut race, Mark Wakefield wasted no time making a name for himself, overtaking both Turkington and Neal in the opening laps to break into the top four. Neal would fight back to no avail as Wilson proved a roadblock from third to seventh.
Wakefield made it through on lap four, with Neal a lap later. The Team Dynamics driver proceeded to chase down the Cheshire racer, but the time lost behind Wilson would be damning, allowing Wakefield to take a podium on debut for Maximum Motorsport. Neal crossed the line fourth.
It would take until lap seven before Turkington benefitted from a mistake from Wilson, which saw him take the grass at Mcleans. The Northern Irish driver did not need to be asked twice running him wide at Coppice and allowing Nick Halstead to also follow through. Turkington eventually caught Neal on the final lap, finishing under half a second behind, with Halstead and Wilson completing the top seven. Wilson’s difficult morning had concluded with a 10 second penalty for track limits.
Sadly for the Audi A4 driven by Alex Day, the left rear suspension broke before the start, cutting the HMS Racing teams race short. Thanks to the swift work of HMS, Day would return to the track for a handful of laps towards the end of the race, giving him some testing before the afternoon event.
Speaking to the winners after the race, Coates was ecstatic.
“I fully expected that to be P2, Lewis drove a storming race and deserved it. I’m gutted for him as he did a great job and that was his race that I inherited at the end.”
“I was here [at Donington] Thursday last week, to coach, Friday and Saturday at Oulton Park, back over here this morning and straight out for qualifying. I’d never driven the GP loop before today, so it’s been a challenge, though so far it’s gone very well.”
Lewis Kent, who still finished at the top TCR driver said;
“We had a nice lead there, but it’s a shame. There is no point getting down on it, we’re going to have to look forward to the next race. We were ready to have that celebration for the win, but it just didn’t come today.”
“The car felt great, everything was good, it was just a misunderstanding over the fuel. Other than that, the team did a fantastic job. We’re happy with second as the top TCR.”
Race Two starts at 18:15.