He might still be in the very earliest stages of his Mini Max career, but talented young Dereham-based karting star Dan Zelos is fast making a name for himself in his new class – and his team manager believes he has ‘turned a corner’ with his latest performance as he stormed to the runner-up spoils at PF International.
Having already evinced outstanding raw pace to pick up the second-place trophy at Whilton Mill, Dan headed north to recently-redesigned Lincolnshire circuit PF preparing to pit himself against some of the drivers who are likely to feature right up at the sharp end in the fiercely-contested national Super 1 Series this year. Do well there, and the Northgate High School pupil knew he would be looking good for when the serious business gets underway.
“After Whilton Mill, I felt confident,” he reflected, “and we had a positive test before PF, too. We’ve been improving every time we’ve been out, so I was quite excited to see what we could do and I really like PF’s new layout – it’s made the track a lot more interesting to drive, and more fun and challenging as well.”
In a small but distinctly high-calibre field, Dan proceeded to qualify in third position, less than two tenths of a second adrift of the benchmark, and in his opening heat race, he recovered well from a minor coming-together to battle his way back to fourth following an energetic scrap. The 13-year-old lost out at the start of heat two, but again fought his way through and determinedly snatched second place in the closing stages, setting fastest lap for good measure.
In heat three, Dan found himself compromised by the tardy getaway of the driver directly ahead of him on the grid, but undeterred, he had grittily reclaimed third spot when he was brusquely shoved wide on the last lap, causing him to fall back to fifth. Another fastest lap was at least some consolation, and demonstrated that the highly-rated Tooley Motorsport hotshot was in strong shape going into the all-important final, where he would once mre line up third“I got a better start this time to move up to second straightaway,” he recounted. “I pushed hard and was almost able to grab the lead at one point, but then about three-quarters of the way through, the front pack of four of us began battling. I briefly dropped down to fourth, but I soon recovered second place.
“Going onto the last lap, my main goal was to defend my position, and I succeeded in doing that which was a really good result for me. It was definitely a confidence boost, and I’m really looking forward to the first Super 1 round now. Who knows, a podium may not even be out of the question.”
Comfortably the top rookie in the class and missing out on fastest lap on this occasion by a scant hundredth of a second, Dan belied his comparative lack of experience in relation to his adversaries to take the chequered flag right in the wheeltracks of the race-winner. To put that into perspective, two of the three drivers against whom he was duelling had finished inside the top ten in the country at Mini Max level in 2011.
What’s more, Norfolk’s resident speed demon has palpably settled in well to his new surroundings, and with more testing and club meetings planned to further hone his racecraft and make sure he is fully ready for Super 1, Tooley Motorsport team owner Dave Tooley has high hopes for his newest protégé.
“Dan’s driving in Mini Max has come on so much since he joined us, and I think he genuinely turned a corner at PF,” he underlined. “It was the best performance I’ve seen him deliver. He really got stuck in, and I was extremely impressed.
“This is all good preparation for the start of the British Championship, and Dan has been putting in a lot of hard work and training and is making progress in terms of his diet and fitness, too. That will all pay off. He is doing everything we ask of him, and is always willing to learn. If he keeps his head, Dan can definitely achieve a top five championship finish in Super 1 this year.”