Dereham race ace Dan Zelos has his sights set on glory this season as he aims for his third Mini Challenge title in three years.
The Davanti Tyres-backed driver – one of the faces of their new Make It Happen campaign – claimed the Rookie Cup and Graduate Cup in his first two seasons in the British Touring Car Championship (BTCC) support series. Last year he narrowly missed out on the main title in a season disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Now the BRDC Rising Star is back with Team Excelr8, a striking new car livery and a hunger to finally claim the Mini Challenge Championship crown.
“I can’t wait to get back out there,” he said. “Last year everything was so up in the air with race dates having to move and with no fans racing was eerie.
“But I felt like the experience helped me to improve as a driver. You have to retain your focus when the conditions are not perfect and deliver consistently and I felt last year was a real test of my ability to do that.
“This year we are expecting to have fans back at some stage and that will be fantastic as it’s a huge motivation to race in front of a crowd, but whatever happens my focus is purely on the title.”
That drive and determination was apparent this winter as for the first time Dan, while the UK was under a national lockdown, decided to enter the realm of eRacing for the first time with Davanti eSports.
Unable to get track-time to practice, entering the Mini Challenge and Touring Car eSeries’ allowed him to maintain race sharpness in a competitive environment against high-quality rivals on virtual racetracks.
“It’s not a perfect solution as there is no real risk, no consequences or costs for crashing out,” he said. “But there were a number of my championship rivals and some touring car drivers taking part, not only to get extra driving time on the tracks on the calendar but to race competitively.
“It’s the first time I’ve used simulators in my preparation and it has helped me stay race-ready so I am already raring to go now that the real championship season is upon us.”
Davanti Tyres director of Sales and Marketing for the UK and Ireland Sean Maddocks said the brand was proud to back Zelos this season.
“We’re right behind him, as we hope everyone else will be,” he said. “The last 18 months has been a challenge for all race drivers competing under pandemic protocols.
“Dan’s commitment to achieving his goal and finding ways to continue improving – even when he can’t get out on the track – has been incredible to see.”
The Mini Challenge returns on June 12-13 with coverage on ITV4. Keep up with Dan’s progress this season at www.davanti-tyres.com/makeithappen and our social channels – search for Davanti Tyres on facebook or visit @davanti_tyres on instagram and twitter.
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