- Norfolk teenager tipped for ‘exciting future’ after head-turning test
21 OCTOBER, 2015 – Seventeen-year-old Norfolk-based racer Dan Zelos impressed when he made his testing debut at the wheel of a Ford EcoBoost-powered MSA Formula car at Donington Park, during which he posted a lap time that would have put him firmly in the mix during the 2015 race weekend.
Since graduating from a successful karting career two years ago, Zelos has honed his craft in the fiercely disputed Ginetta Junior series. A brace of hugely impressive seasons witnessed the A-Level student twice finish inside the overall top four in the drivers’ standings among almost 30 high-calibre contenders. Not only that, but he tallied two victories, 16 podiums and 31 top-10 finishes along the way behind the wheel of his distinctive, Evergreen Tyres-sponsored and JHR Developments-run Ginetta G40.
Having earned his car racing spurs, Zelos is now ready to take the next step and to that end he climbed into the cockpit of JHR’s MSA Formula single-seater – a car driven to a hat-trick of triumphs by Sennan Fielding this season.
After getting to grips with the Ford EcoBoost-powered race car in double-quick fashion, the highly-rated Dereham-based hotshot went on to conjure up a lap time just three tenths-of-a-second shy of the benchmark set by former McLaren Autosport BRDC Award finalist Fielding back in April in not dissimilar conditions.
“I felt very excited ahead of the test and admittedly also a little bit nervous, as it was my first time in a single-seater and being an ‘open pit-lane’ day, I knew there would be a lot of other fast cars out there,” Zelos reflected. “That said, the team gave me some data to look through and a video to watch beforehand by way of preparation and Sennan was on-hand to offer advice, which really helped.
“It was the first time I had driven on slick tyres in cars, and the hardest part was getting the heat into them. I also had to get my head around the fact that the quicker you go round corners, the more grip you have available – that’s a bit counter-intuitive, so you have to train yourself to ignore what your brain is telling you! The MSA Formula car is an out-and-out, pure-bred racer. It’s light, nimble, powerful and a tremendous amount of fun to drive and it calls for a different skill set to tin-tops or sports cars.
“I got a handle on it more rapidly than I’d anticipated, and after my initial laps, the nerves disappeared. Once the first session was out of the way, I had more confidence to push and I ended up much closer to the pace than anybody – myself included – had expected, I think. I still have other options to try out and assess over the coming weeks in terms of what I’ll be doing next year, but driving the MSA Formula car has certainly given me something to think about…”
Having mentored Zelos since he made his car racing bow at the tail end of 2013, JHR team principal Steven Hunter is better-equipped than most to evaluate his performance, and he is in no doubt at all that the teenager has all the necessary qualities to forge a professional career in the sport.
“It was an exceptionally positive day – the boy can definitely drive a single-seater and he absolutely loved it!” he affirmed. “Every time he stepped out of it, he was grinning like a Cheshire cat! Dan took to the MSA Formula car like a duck to water – it came very naturally to him, and within about ten laps, he was setting some very competitive times.
“The whole concept just suits Dan down to the ground; his style is very smooth, he drives with an element of finesse and he has all the attributes required to become a very accomplished single-seater racer. I’ve always believed in Dan and see massive potential in him. He has a very exciting future, and if it was up to me, I’d sign him for MSA Formula right now.”