October 1, 2018
British Talent Cup
Qualifying Practice would set the grid for the two races so was crucial to get a good result! This season has been all about Max, Rory Skinner and Thomas Strudwick and that was no different in qualifying with Max splitting the pair. With the circuit being full of long straights there was no doubt that this was going to be a race that went down to the wire.
Starting from the inside of row one Max initially got a bad launch off the line and momentarily dropped to 5th but a brave move at turn one quickly led to him getting back into 3rd by turn three. The trio quickly began to escape and going into the final chicane on lap two Max made his move for 2nd.
During this time Skinner had made a break out front and broken the tow making Max’s task of catching him even tougher! However, after setting the fastest lap Max was with the Scotsman by lap five and still had eleven laps remaining. As Max piled on the pressure he forced a mistake from Skinner at the end of lap six which saw him get the run and take the lead going into turn one on lap seven.
Unfortunately that lead wouldn’t last for long with Skinner going back past a few corners later but the battle was certainly far from over! It wasn’t long before Strudwick was back into the mix as he passed Max on lap ten with the top three split by just 0.3 seconds! As the top two went toe to toe on lap eleven Max was gifted 2nd, but almost high sided into the chicane dropping him back down to 3rd and off the top two.
It led to Max losing a place to Storm Stacey but quickly working together there was four for the lead with just over three laps remaining. The race was now starting to come hugely intense and anyone of the four riders could have won and despite being 4th on the penultimate lap Max was still in with a good shot!
A brilliant move through Ramshoek saw him move into 3rd and going onto the last lap he was in a close fight with Stacey. However, Max seemed to lack power out of Strubben and briefly lost 3rd but dug deep to quickly get back on the podium. Heading into the final corner Max thought about a look down the inside for 2nd but with no room he would have to settle for 3rd on this occasion. A good result and yet another podium for the season!
Starting from the middle of the front row for race two once again Max didn’t get the best start but was able to slot into 3rd through turn one. That became 2nd just a lap later after a fantastic run out of the last corner and now Max found himself chasing Skinner once again. The pair then began to trade positions which kept the pack behind close with everyone eager to take victory in front of the big crowd that was filling the grandstands.
Although battling Max, along with Skinner and Strudwick, were able to break away from the rest of the field and on lap five Max hit the front for the second time in the race. This started a battle that went on for several laps with Max pulling off some brilliant moves but eventually he settled back into 2nd with Skinner urging him to follow and create a gap to the rest of the field.
With Max being the only rider that could match the Championship leader they pulled a gap on the rest of the field. Heading onto the penultimate lap Max began to experiment with possible places to make his move on the final lap as he prepared to steal the race right at the death!
Halfway around the last lap it looked like Max’s plan had backfired on him with Skinner stretching an advantage, but Max rode an inch perfect second half of the lap and pulled off a brave move around the outside of the long left hander to give him the inside going into the final chicane. On the exit the race was still not over as Skinner looked to have got the run and in a drag race to the line Max clinched the race by just 0.005 seconds!
In a post-race interview Max revealed that he had planned to drop back in the first sector all along to maximise the slipstream in the final run down to the fast-left hander where he knew he was stronger and could take the lead. For a 15-year-old to come up with that strategy on track is hugely impressive and Max played his tactics spot on and thoroughly deserved the victory!
At the line Max, didn’t know whether to celebrate or not but as he entered the pits and was directed to park in front of the first place sign the emotions were evident. It was a mixture of elation as well as being relieved that he had done it. It was Max’s second win of the season and brought him closer to the top two in the championship heading into the final round at Valencia.