Image: Cicely Motorsport

MAX Coates is hoping to make his third crack at the Renault UK Clio Cup his last as he joins reigning champions Team Pyro for his upcoming campaign.

And with two full seasons of Clio racing already under his belt in 2016 and 2017, finishing third in his debut year, the Scorton, North Yorkshire native wants to make the third time the charm before he steps up to the blue riband British Touring Car Championship.

Coates originally intended to make the move to the BTCC in 2018, but a lack of finances forced him to have a rethink during the winter months as to what would benefit his career the most.

He admits he came up just shy of being able to organise an effort in the UK’s premier class for touring car competition, but also says it wouldn’t have been an effort he was truly happy with.

So the recent university graduate went back to the drawing board and decided it was in his best interest to return to the one-make Renault series and compete for top honours.

“We looked at the options we had and we were struggling to get together a budget for the whole BTCC season,” he told SportsByte. “We were close to being able to do it, but just came up short.

“It was both the cost factor and the fact I feel I have unfinished business in the Clio Cup that brought me back to it again this year. After a fourth and a third in the past two seasons and knowing I have beat the guys who will probably be my main rivals this year, my only aim is the title.

“If there was ever a season I felt up to the job, this is it. You only have to look at the results to see how successful Team Pyro is in the championship. Eight out of the last 10 titles are theirs, I think that speaks for itself.

Team boss Mark Hunt confessed his Leicestershire-based squad has every chance of defending the Entrant’s trophy for the most successful team this year, especially with Coates in the line-up.

Hunt said: “Max is a real coup for our team, he has been among the stand-out acts these past two seasons and adds real strength to our line-up as we aim to defend our Entrants Trophy crown.

“I am also confident he will be right in the fight for the drivers title, too.”

Coates heads out on track next Thursday, March 15, at Silverstone for the championship’s official media day.