Max Coates replaces ex-F1 driver Martin Donnelly in BTCC

Max Coates will make his British Touring Car Championship debut at Croft this weekend, replacing ex-Formula 1 driver Martin Donnelly at the Support our Paras Racing team

Max Coates replaces ex-F1 driver Martin Donnelly in BTCC

The 21-year-old's deal returns the ex-Infiniti factory-backed outfit to two cars, having slimmed down to one Infiniti Q50 at Oulton Park.

Coates joining the Paras team ends Donnelly's hopes of continuing his brief BTCC career.

The Northern Irishman was drafted in by Infiniti to replace Richard Hawken before the manufacturer pulled the plug on its involvement with the programme, and he had been in discussions with the team to maintain the relationship that began at Thruxton.

Coates has not contested a full campaign since finishing sixth in the 2011 Ginetta Junior Championship, but has made sporadic appearances in the Ginetta GT4 Supercup in the past three seasons and drove the Porsche Carrera Cup GB guest car at Donington Park last year.

"I'm under no illusion as to how hard the racing will be," said Coates.

"This is the first part of a long-term plan with the team and I am very excited about opportunities both now and in the future.

"Racing in the BTCC will be a dream come true. There has been a lot of hard work, from a number of people, behind the scenes over the last five years since I joined the TOCA paddock.

"Kicking off my BTCC career at Croft, my home circuit, will be something special."

Team principal Derek Palmer Sr said Coates would be with the team for next season as well.

"I'm delighted to welcome Max to the team," he said. "We know what he's capable of, and he has bags of potential which we're confident we'll be able to nurture and develop.

"It's an exciting appointment for the team, and we're looking forward to working together for the rest of the season, and into 2016."

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