Zelos moves into pole position in 2023 championship fight
It’s been a successful start to the 2023 Mini Challenge season for Dan Zelos so far, with his results at Snetterton securing him pole position in the race for the title, plus his first win on his home circuit.
In qualifying, Zelos soared to the top of the timesheets by almost a third-of-a-second in the 22-strong field which included – for the first time in 2023 – reigning champion Sam Weller.
After setting a new lap record and acing the start in the first race of the weekend, Zelos focussed on putting pressure on his pursuers, led by Joe Tanner. Every time he was threatened in the cat-and-mouse duel, he had an answer and he expertly controlled proceedings to the chequered flag to seal his fourth win of the campaign.
Race two saw more of the same, with Zelos keeping Tanner at arm’s length throughout to secure a second win. Fastest lap also added six bonus points to the 2021 champion’s tally, and his 11th career triumph elevated him to within a single victory of equalling the all-time record.
Beginning the final race in fourth position, Zelos quickly stole a spot into the first corner, but then found himself stuck on the outside line and shuffled down to his starting position once more. This didn’t stop Dan though, as he regained his raw pace and became a contender in a five-way fight for a podium finish.
As he made his move on lap five, Zelos was twice elbowed onto the grass, relegating him to fifth, but he battled back past Weller and was challenging Dominic Wheatley for third when the red flags flew with a minute-and-a-half remaining and the result was called.
His unrivalled points haul was nonetheless comfortable enough to propel Zelos into the championship lead on both full and dropped scores as he ramps up his quest for a second crown.
“It was good to get the monkey off my back at home at last; it had been a long time coming, and I was absolutely over the moon to finally do it. Race two was then like déjà vu, and it was awesome to win again in front of all my family, friends, sponsors and customers there supporting me. That meant a lot.
“I was looking forward to enjoying more of a battle in race three and I really wanted to fight for another win, but I was also mindful of the bigger picture and the fact that after Donington Park and Brands, we can’t really afford any DNFs now this year so I needed to remain circumspect to a certain extent. I took some calculated risks, but nothing too dicey, and if the race had run to full length, I’m fairly confident we’d have finished on the podium.
“Still, if somebody had offered me two firsts and a fourth ahead of the weekend, I would have bitten their hand off, and I feel like we’re in a really good place going next to Oulton Park, which has always been a strong circuit for me. We’ve got a little bit of a break in the meantime to recharge and refocus, and then let’s get back on it again and try to increase our advantage!”
The season continues at Oulton Park on 17th-18th June. Keep up to date with Dan’s progress on our social channels.