Zelos in with fighting chance in chase for Mini title
- Credit: Archant
A second Mini JCW Challenge victory has kept Dan Zelos in touch with the two championship leaders – but the Dereham racer was realistic about his title hopes going into the penultimate round of the championship.
"We are third in the championship, top spot is slim but anything is possible," said the Evergreen Tyres-supported driver prior to the latest round held at Donington Park.
The weekend started well for Zelos after the MINI UK VIP driver annexed a front row starting slot for the opening race in which the local racer held his position until the final two laps when he was frustrated to be shuffled down to fourth place.
"Wanted to be a little bit higher but it just wasn't our race today. An issue under the bonnet hampered our top speed but with this fixed we look to race two when we start P5," said a disappointed Zelos.
A demon start saw Zelos able to snatch second place by the Old Hairpin just before the safety car was deployed. Once racing resumed the local racer harried Rory Cuff but couldn't find a way past until just before a second safety car interlude.
"Rory had defended well and being my team-mate I knew he would play fair. It was a real 'last of the late-brakers' duel into the chicane. I just got it done in time and that was crucial to the end result," added Zelos after motoring away from the chasing pack over the final laps.
Meanwhile, Lewis Galer, from Litcham, was in the pits with a damaged car. The youngster was battling away for 15th place when he collided with a rival at the final corner which caused the second safety car episode.
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In the opening race Galer had worked his way up to 12th place, having started the event from 15th on the grid, but a post-race track limits penalty cost him five places.
The tight and twisty Knockhill Circuit didn't allow the EXCELR8 Motorsport MG6 drivers, Sam Osborne and Rob Smith, on their first ever visit to the circuit, to show off their skills with the local cars lining up at the back of the grid for the opening British Touring Car Championship race.
In a hectic opening event both Smith and Osborne posted their best result, with the former finishing 21st just ahead of his team-mate.
In race two Smith claimed 22nd place while Osborne was three places further back with the pair completing the third race in line astern in 22nd and 23rd places, happy to have completed all three events.
"We all knew it was going to be a tough weekend, having never raced here and never even driven here. It was an eye-opener but definitely one to remember for me," admitted Osborne.
"I was struggling a bit with the handling of the car over the kerbs, especially at the chicane," said Smith. "The races were a lot better though and both Sam and I kept our noses clean and were within striking distance when things went wrong for the guys in front of us."
Cranworth Porsche Carrera Cup racer Adam Hatfield secured another ProAM category podium with a charging drive in the second race of the recent Silverstone round.
Hatfield was in the three-way battle for second place in the opening race but was unable to secure a podium visit having to settling for fourth at the finish,
A difficult start to race two heralded a brilliant drive back to the podium, taking the fastest race lap in the process.
"This was my best race of the season," said Hatfield. "After the poor start I didn't think we would be able to convert my pace into a result, but I kept pushing and it all came good in the end."
The Vintage Sports Car Club endurance and sprint events, due to take place this Saturday at Snetterton, have been cancelled due to a lack of entries.