Dan Zelos demonstrated to his rivals that he has the pace to win in his maiden campaign of Mini Max competition in 2012, after lapping faster than the leaders as he fairly stormed his way through the field to battle back from a first lap accident to a top ten finish in the fiercely-contested national Super 1 Series at Rowrah.Having vied for victory in the prestigious annual ‘O’ Plate outing around the demanding and undulating Cumbrian circuit a fortnight earlier, Dan returned ready to pit himself against even tougher opposition in the shape of 33 high-calibre adversaries representing the indisputable crème de la crème of young British driving talent at Mini Max level.
“After the form we had shown in the ‘O’ Plate at Rowrah, I felt quite confident going into Super 1,” revealed the gifted Dereham-based speed demon. “We knew we had the ability to challenge up near the front, so I was looking forward to it.”
A lack of testing in the rain allied to an imperfect set-up left Dan a disappointed tenth in the wet qualifying session, but worse was to follow in the 14-year-old’s opening heat race, as a failure of the clutch drum on his kart meant he never even made it to the starting grid.
“That was massively disappointing,” he acknowledged. “We needed some good, strong, consistent results at Rowrah, but after that we knew regardless of what happened in heat two, we would likely be way down the grid for the pre-final. The pressure was really on.”
Dan admitted that he was pleased to wake up the next morning and find that the track had dried up, but if the second heat went rather better than the first, still it was not without its difficulties.
“I moved up into sixth place pretty quickly,” recounted the Tooley Motorsport hotshot. “I was really fast, and able to overtake people comparatively easily, but then just after I had passed the driver ahead in fifth, my throttle cable jammed on. That meant I was on full throttle everywhere, making it really difficult to turn in for the corners. Given that Rowrah is full of corners, that’s not the ideal situation to be in!
“At times, it was a struggle even to stay on the track. I was missing all the apexes, and it was quite scary approaching the Esses in particular, because I had already discovered at the ‘O’ Plate that if you go off there, it will do a fair bit of damage. From making progress, all-of-a-sudden it became a case of trying simply to defend my position – and I was both pleased and surprised to hang onto sixth place in the end.”
From there, Dan went on to begin the pre-final – as he had presciently forecast – some way down the order in 18th place. And right from the moment the lights went out, the action was no holds-barred.
“I managed to get across to the inside for the first corner, which is always the immediate goal when you’re starting on the outside line,” he related, “but then the next thing I knew, there were several karts spinning right in front of me. I had nowhere to go except straight into another kart, and I was stationary for about a quarter-of-a-lap. After that, I just had to push as hard as I could to regain as much ground as possible, and at least finishing 19th meant I would be on the inside line for starting the grand final.
“Unfortunately, in that race, going into the first corner, two drivers ahead of me came together. I was on-course to miss them, but then I got hit really hard from behind which sent me off the track – so for the second time in as many races, I was facing the wrong direction on the first lap!
“I was a long way down the field, but I knew I had to just concentrate on fighting as far back through the pack as I could, and it was actually quite enjoyable. My team manager had told me before the weekend that I needed to be tougher in battles, so it was a good opportunity for me to show what I’m made of.
The ‘O’ Plate had left me feeling a lot more confident and assertive in that respect, and it definitely felt good to be able to go past people the way I did and then pull away.”
Taking the chequered flag a highly commendable ninth and lapping faster than the race-winner along the way, Dan’s eye-catching effort went to show what might have been – and the Northgate High School pupil is adamant that as soon as Lady Luck deigns to smile upon him, well, just watch him go…
“The weekend had its frustrations, that’s for sure,” he concluded, “but it ended well, and I was able to prove that I’m one of the quickest out there in Super 1. Once everything comes together, the results will follow.”
If you are interested in getting involved in life in the fast lane by sponsoring Dan, please contact his dad Andy at: HYPERLINK “mailto:email@example.com” firstname.lastname@example.org