Dereham racer Dan Zelos sets sights on Ginetta Junior Championship title challenge
PUBLISHED: 06:30 13 November 2014
Dan Zelos’ performances, in his first year, in the Ginetta Junior Championship has put him in pole position for a title tilt in 2015 having finished in fourth place and claimed the Vice Champion’s position in the recent Winter Series.
The 16-year-old Dereham schoolboy had an impressive karting career before transferring to the premier junior racing category which supports the British Touring Car Championship.
“The season has absolutely flown by,” reflected the local youngster. “It seems like just a handful of weeks ago that I was at Brands Hatch for the first round making my championship debut. Now the nerves have been replaced by excitement and ambition.”
That lack of experience and nerves got the better of Dan in the first race of the season when he stalled at the start, but he then set off after the field to finish in a commendable 14th place.
Race two proved he had the pace to challenge for podium places with a fifth place and top first year racer in the process to claim the Rookie award. Donington was not quite so kind as a gearbox issue relegated him to the back of the grid for both races with the Dereham Sixth Form College pupil claiming 12th and 10th places.
The series then moved to the high speed Thruxton circuit, with Zelos leading home the field in the first event to take his maiden series victory, with race two yielding another podium visit with third place.
“I have had some big results in my career before in karting, but nothing comes close to this. I am absolutely over the moon. It was an amazing weekend and unquestionably one to remember,” said the Evergreen Types supported racer.
Another podium followed at Croft before a double visit, for two third places, at his home track of Snetterton.
“It’s interesting to look back to my car racing debut in the Ginetta Junior Winter Series last November and appreciate how far we have come,” reflected Zelos.
“I was more than five seconds off the pace nine months ago and remember looking up at my team-mate on the podium, and now that’s me.”
The second half of the season continued in a similar vein with a second victory at Rockingham, but it was his consistency which stood out and allowed him to even outscore his title winning team-mate, Jack Mitchell.
The Rockingham victory reflected Zelos’ increasing maturity in not getting involved in an increasingly tense tussle for the lead which saw the local racer taking advantage of the two leaders colliding, as he had expected.
“They tangled, as I suspected, at the final corner and fortunately I was able to thread my way around the outside and into the lead,” he said.
“I was over the moon to get my second win of the season. At the start of the year, I never expected to win even one race, let alone two.”
With a record of nine podium places, six other top-10 finishes and championship points in the remaining events, Zelos can’t wait for the 2015 season to start.