NGK-sponsored Max Coates is in confident mood on the eve of the 2021 MINI CHALLENGE Championship.

The 27-year-old North Yorkshireman is driving for Essex-based Graves Motorsport, a new team to the MINI JCW class supporting the British Touring Car Championship (BTCC), and is aiming to take the title in his second season in the competition.

He said: “My aspiration is to go and win the title. The team might be new to the championship, but I’m not and there is no real difference in the car I will be driving, so why not?”

Coates, who will partner Bradley Gravett, son of 1990 BTCC Champion Robb, at the team, is delighted to be receiving the support of ignition and sensor specialist NGK Spark Plugs (UK) Ltd for a third year running.

He said: “This will be the second season NGK has sponsored me in the MINI CHALLENGE after supporting me in the Clio Cup. NGK is a massive global brand within motorsport and the general automotive world and it is great to have our relationship continue and I am really grateful for their support. I plan to take the car on the track for the first time on May 12 when we will also be revealing the new livery.”

Mark Hallam, Marketing Manager, NGK Spark Plugs (UK) Ltd, said: “We are delighted to once again be supporting Max in the MINI CHALLENGE and together with the many thousands of our customers who are fans of the sport cannot wait to see him try to win the title.”

The 2021 MINI CHALLENGE UK season starts at Snetterton on June 12-13 with the second round hopefully allowing for a full resumption of spectator support as the UK starts to open Covid restrictions in line with its roadmap.

Coates said: “Unlike 2020, I’m looking forward to spectators, friends, family and sponsors being back trackside with me in 2021, something I missed massively from the racing experience last season.”

The championship will take in iconic circuits, Brands Hatch, Oulton Park, Knockhill, Donington Park and Coates’ home circuit, Croft, during the 2021 season in which it remains as a support series to the BTCC events.

Featuring live ITV4 coverage reaching 20 million in the UK alone and average crowds of 38,000 people, it makes for an exciting day of action in which the MINI CHALLENGE plays a significant role.

Last year was Coates’ debut season in the MINI CHALLENGE and he got off to the best start possible with a race win at the opening round at Donington Park.  He signed off the season with a pole position at a wet Brands Hatch Indy circuit in October last year and will hope to continue that form in the new season.

For more information about NGK Spark Plugs (UK) Ltd and its products and services, please visit www.ngkntk.com