Race preparation took a hard blow for Dan Zelos at Brands Hatch because of a lingering gearbox problem that affected his practice and qualifying sessions during the first weekend of the 2018 Renault UK Clio Cup.
The WDE Motorsport driver was already behind in terms of mileage coming to the Kent circuit compared to his rivals, therefore consistent running was paramount for Dan so he could get accustomed to the car and the new 2018 Michelin tyres.
However this wasn’t the case due to a gearbox issue forcing the 19 year old to do only thirty laps over the course of both sessions. In comparison to the rest of the field, the most laps covered was seventy eight.
Confident that the issue wouldn’t return, qualifying was hoped to be a bit more successful. However, the troublesome gearbox caused the Norfolk driver to stop out on track and start both races on the grid from thirteenth position.
The first race was a complete polar opposite compared to his practice and qualifying, where a fantastic start and supreme racecraft to cut through the field was rewarded with an eighth place finish. To further compliment the competitive nature of the Clio Cup he was only two seconds away from Daniel Rowbottom in third place.
Race two was incredibly wet. However, Dan showed his maturity as he passed three cars on the opening lap but the hard work was shattered as he was tagged into a half spin at the exit of druids and droppped a couple places.
Undeterred, he pressed on and passed a few drivers before ultimately passing Rowbottom on the run towards Surtees with only a few laps left to gain another eighth place. This was where Dan finished at the flag.
Considering the retched start to his weekend, two competitive eighth place finishes was a testiment to the attitude of Dan and the repair job that WDE Motorsport had to do in a short space of time.
Talking of the struggles during the Brands weekend, Dan reflected, “Given the build-up to the season and our lack of much meaningful testing.
“Brands was arguably never going to be the easiest event for us, but the difficulties we encountered throughout Friday and again in qualifying made things even tougher.”
However, Dan knew of his gameplan going into each race, “I knew the starts would be key and I nailed them all, which was encouraging after the issues I had in that department last year.
“After that, it was a case of staying out-of-trouble around the first lap and the car definitely felt better than it had earlier in the weekend.”
Despite the polarising weekend, the teenager is looking forward to the next few rounds of the championship, “The weekend in general was a big learning curve and we’ve not yet found the sweet spot with the car on the new tyres, but I feel more confident now than I did arriving at Brands and a bit of testing should sort us out.
“Ultimately, to come away with a couple of top eight finishes and not a million miles away in the points table is a solid start, and with Donington and Thruxton both holding happy memories for me, hopefully we can move up the order there and push for some podiums.”