Having established a reputation for himself as one of the finest karters around with a string of national and international successes, Max Goff has confirmed his outstanding potential with an extraordinary transition to car racing in the French SEAT León Supercopa Championship – with a trio of podium finishes on his debut.
After dipping his toe into the water with a one-off appearance in the 2010 Spanish SEAT León Supercopa finale around Barcelona's Circuit de Catalunya – and claiming a superb seventh-place finish for good measure – Goff was all-set to compete in the 2011 SEAT León Eurocup until it was canned, prompting an eleventh-hour switch to the French series, on the same FFSA bill as the French GT Championship.
Having taken delivery of his car only a handful of days ahead of the first meeting, the highly-rated young Northants star found himself with no time to test it before the curtain-raiser around the challenging southern French circuit of Lédenon, pitching him straight in at the deep end around a track that he had never so much as set eyes upon and against no fewer than 24 rivals all in identical, single-make machinery...the vast majority of whom benefitting from a good deal more experience than him. None of it would faze him in the slightest.
“The competition was really tough,” acknowledged the Brigstock-based speed demon of what was only his second-ever car racing outing. “With the Eurocup being cancelled, all the drivers have flooded into the French series instead. There's a real mixture of experienced drivers who have been doing it for years, and young drivers like me trying to get into touring cars.
“It was a big grid, so we thought it would be brilliant if we could just finish inside the top ten, especially considering the limited timeframe we were up against and only getting to shake the car down for the first time during the official Thursday morning test session.
“The León is a really good car, and with it having paddle-shift gears and just two pedals, that makes it a lot more adaptable for me coming from karts. It's got 300bhp, so there's quite a bit of power going through the front wheels, and the weight-shift is quite hard to get used to, as well. It's just completely different to a kart, and a massive step-up for me. Supercopa is only one level below touring cars, so it's a very big championship – and a very big challenge.
“Lédenon is quite an interesting circuit; every corner is on a hill, so there are a lot of blind turns to get used to. I just tried to get as many tips as I could from more experienced drivers who had raced there before, and I gradually worked my way up the timing screens and by the last test session we were fourth-fastest, which was definitely a confidence boost.”
Already comfortably exceeding his initial expectations and underlining his incredible raw talent, in a series governed by an ethos of equal machinery that places the emphasis very much upon the skill of the driver behind the wheel, the 17-year-old went on to qualify an impressive fifth, all-the-more noteworthy given that due to yellow flags, he had but a single attempt at setting a quick lap time. And the races would go even better.
“The first race was 20 laps in distance, and the longest stint we had done in the car and on the tyres previously was seven,” recounted the MSA Academy member and Loughborough College Elite Athlete, “so it was all a bit of an unknown! I got a good start to move up to fourth straightaway, though, and then with just a few laps to go I managed to overtake the driver in third. To get a podium was fantastic, and a great reward for all the hard work the team had put in – it all paid off, and it helped me to prove myself and show what I could do, too.