Dan Zelos overcame a luckless qualifying session to card his fourth top five finish of the 2014 Ginetta Junior Championship campaign at Oulton Park.
Confidence was high for the 15 year old heading into the meeting after securing his maiden race win last time out at Thruxton.
Gearbox troubles in qualifying dealt him an early blow though, problems upshifting leaving him slipping to an unrepresentative eleventh and thirteenth on the grid as the track improved late in the session.
Surviving a lively opening lap in race one, Zelos slotted into twelfth on the tail of a long train of cars fighting over fifth. As a number of cars tangled ahead at Cascades on lap two, Zelos threaded his way through the carnage to move up to eighth place.
After a short safety car period, Zelos quickly gained a place at the restart and then benefitted from an incident ahead on the last lap to sneak through to sixth at the flag, before being promoted to fifth post-race after a driver ahead was excluded.
With a fourth top five finish in seven races under his belt, Zelos was aiming for more of the same in race two. After a positive start though, a pair of spinning cars ahead at Cascades on lap three forced him to bounce across the grass in avoidance.
With plenty of time lost, Zelos could only take his mud-splattered Ginetta G40J up to twelfth at the finish. Despite the lowly finish, the JHR Developments racer still left the weekend sixth overall in the championship.
“I felt really confident after Thruxton, but whilst the win there had naturally shifted the goalposts slightly, I was still very mindful of keeping my expectations in-check because this year remains a steep learning curve for me,” said Zelos.
“In qualifying we ran into gearbox problems that worsened as the session wore on, so I didn’t get the opportunity to improve when everybody else did. That was obviously frustrating because we knew there was some good pace in the car, but the JHR Developments boys did a superb job to fit a replacement ‘box before the races.
“I posted some quick laps during race one and although there were a few near-misses along the way, by staying out of trouble, we ended up fifth. That was a fantastic result from where we had started.
“In race two, I was making good progress until the collision ahead. That destroyed my chances because it put me so far behind that I was never going to be able to catch the others up again, but we still finished and came away with no real damage to the car.”
“Overall, I have to be satisfied with the weekend’s results and we can go to the next meeting at Croft with our heads held high and in the knowledge that we’ve got the pace to challenge.”