Dan Zelos vows to learn from final disappointment at Kartmasters event
Dereham's Dan Zelos gave nothing away to his rivals in the annual Kartmasters meeting at PF International – as a dominant qualifying and pre-final performance saw him take on and defeat the very best in the country.
Northgate High School pupil Zelos, in his rookie campaign at Mini Max level in 2012, travelled to PF with an excellent record around the Lincolnshire circuit. He had stormed to his breakthrough national success there in the keenly-contested Super 1 Series' Comer Cadet class in 2011, and not long after produced a stirring charge from 18th on the grid to come close to victory in a Kartmasters photo-finish.
'We'd been quick there during testing, so I was feeling pretty optimistic and looking forward to it,' he said. 'I've driven at PF a lot, so I know the track well.'
Zelos was on top form in qualifying, as he sped to a comfortable pole position out of the 36 Mini Max contenders present.
Praising a 'spot-on' job from his Tooley Motorsport mechanics, the highly-rated Dereham-based hotshot was in bullish mood as the heat races approached.
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He finished third in the first heat and led for much of the second before coming in fourth. Rain in the third heat affected his performance and he finished sixth.
That earned Zelos fourth spot on the pre-final grid, from where he would waste little time in swiftly re-asserting his supremacy.
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'I got a good start and managed to cut across to the inside in time for Turn One to move immediately up into third,' he recounted. 'Heading down towards the first hairpin, I passed the driver in second and then at the end of the next lap I grabbed the lead on the main straight.
'When the chequered flag came out, it was such a good feeling. It was definitely my best race in Mini Max so far.'
The pre-final triumph delivered the 14-year-old a sizeable confidence boost ahead of the grand final later in the day. Unfortunately, matters would rapidly go awry.
'It began to rain before the start, so I was a little bit nervous,' he said. 'I tried to get my foot down at the right time when the lights went out but the engine didn't seem to want to pull away initially and I was swamped – drivers flew past me on both sides! That left me all the way down in ninth, after which it was another massive scrap at the front. Towards the end it was drying up again and I was getting quicker and quicker, but by then, it was too late.'
After finishing seventh, Zelos vowed to take the lessons from the weekend and come back stronger and more formidable still when he returns to PF for the penultimate Super 1 outing there next month.
'I was really upset, because I had been convinced we could win – so to not even leave with a grand final trophy was really gutting,' he said. 'We have to focus on the positives, though, and our pace and performance in the dry were extremely encouraging. We just need a bit more practice in the wet.'
To sponsor Zelos, contact his dad Andy at: firstname.lastname@example.org