Zelos fires early warning to Mini Challenge rivalsMonday 3rd August 2020
Dan Zelos put his rivals on notice as he kick-started his partnership with Davanti Tyres by establishing himself as a front-runner in the Mini Challenge.
Donington Park was the venue for the first three rounds of the single-make competition, which has joined the BTCC Calendar for the first time.
This season is unique, with rescheduling and restrictions due to COVID-19, but reigning rookie champ Zelos, racing with team Exceler8, didn’t miss a beat as he was narrowly edged off the podium in race one, seized his chances in race two to bag second and rounded off with a solid sixth place to finish the round fifth overall in the driver standings.
History has shown, Zelos’ performances typically improve as the season progresses, so such a strong start for the Dereham ace should ensure his rivals keep one eye on him going into the next round of races at Knockhill.
In race one Zelos looked set for third despite driving with contact damage to his right front wheel, until a gutsy pass on the penultimate lap by Lewis Brown pipped him to the rostrum.
In race two Zelos was more aggressive, keeping the chasing pack in check as he clinched his first season podium place as runner-up.
“It was an exciting race,” he said. “I got more involved. I wanted to concentrate on catching Nathan Harrison but Lewis wasn’t going to give me a second to breathe.
“The whole race he was in one mirror, in the other mirror. I would pull away at the start of the lap and by the end he’d caught up again!
“But the car felt good. We’ve been lucky to have the support of our sponsors, including Davanti Tyres, during all this uncertainty to help us get to the line in competitive shape.”
The reverse grid race three start was frantic and saw Zelos squeezed onto the grass, however he recovered and cut through the field to earn sixth place, not the finish he would wish for but in the race for a championship where the first three races had three different winners, every point counts.
“Looking to the rest of the campaign, one thing is clear,” said Dan. “The fact the top four were so evenly-matched all weekend underlines the importance of qualifying this season, especially with extra points on offer for the pole-winner and fastest lap.
“The best way to secure those bonus points is by being out front and not getting caught up in battles. That’s one of our key focuses now – and three poles last season proves we’re more than capable.
“Overall, we came away with three trophies and our position in the championship doesn’t reflect how good a weekend we had. Last year aside, Donington has never traditionally been my best track, I’m confident we can be even stronger moving forward.”
Davanti Tyres is proud to sponsor Dan Zelos in the 2020 Quaife Mini Challenge. Follow his progress at www.minichallenge.co.uk.