National first for Dereham’s flying kart racer
KARTING: Having entered the weekend as a championship rookie, Dereham-based Dan Zelos got his 2011 Super One Series campaign off to the best possible start with his breakthrough victory on the national karting scene at PF International — and now he is aiming to go all the way and clinch the coveted British crown.
With two years' experience under his belt, at the age of 12, in fellow national competition Formula Kart Stars (FKS) — yielding a best individual finish of 10th and a best championship placing of 19th — Dan has come on in veritable leaps-and-bounds since joining Prima Racing.
Heading to PF, however, Dan was well aware that the calibre of the opposition he would face in the 33-strong Super One Comer Cadet class would be every bit as fierce as he had been used to in FKS.
'I knew it wouldn't be an easy ride at all, but I just tried my hardest like I always do,' he reflected. 'I had fairly high hopes, but I know there are about 10 drivers who can win in Comer Cadet this year, which means there can be as many as ten in the lead pack.
He laid the foundations for his triumphant weekend in qualifying, by lapping an excellent fourth-quickest, a scant five hundredths of a second shy of the benchmark. His two heat races subsequently yielded a seventh place and a third, leaving him to begin the first of the two all-important finals from fifth.
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'Going into the first hairpin on the opening lap, I got a huge shunt from behind, which sent me spinning onto the grass,' Dan recounted. 'That left me right down at the tailend of the field.
'The kart was brilliant, so I just got my head down and started moving through the pack. When I went across the finish line I counted the number of karts in front of me, and I couldn't believe I was fifth after getting taken out at the start.'
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From P5 once more in the second final, the Northgate High School pupil enjoyed a much cleaner run and wasted little time in advancing to third, before going on to work with two of his rivals as they intelligently distanced themselves from their pursuers to turn it into a three-horse race.
As is so often the case in Cadets, it all came down to a last lap showdown.
'When the chequered flag came down and I was the first person to receive it, I was so happy. I hadn't even won a club meeting at PF before, so it felt absolutely brilliant! '
Dan's maiden national success and indubitably the greatest of his burgeoning career to date.
If you are interested in getting involved in life in the fast lane by sponsoring Dan, please contact his dad Andy at: firstname.lastname@example.org