Dan Zelos is fighting fit ahead of the start of the 2017 Renault UK Clio Cup in just under a fortnight’s time, capping a positive pre-season testing programme with WDE Motorsport by officially taking the wraps off the striking new livery adorning his Evergreen Tyres-sponsored car.
Zelos graduated to the fiercely-disputed, ITV4-televised British Touring Car Championship feeder series last year off the back of a brace of impressive campaigns in Ginetta Juniors, continuing to catch the eye with his raw pace and potential but finding himself on the receiving end of persistent ill-fortune.
The talented young Norfolk ace returns in 2017 with a new team in WDE, renewed motivation and a fresh outlook, determined to demonstrate his mettle in what is commonly regarded as the toughest single-make championship on the tremendously popular TOCA package.
A bumper list of 24 high-calibre contenders – the largest in five years – was announced during the Clio Cup’s annual Media Day at Rockingham, raising expectations of the most competitive season in the series’ long and illustrious history.
Having already been out testing at Brands Hatch Indy, Snetterton and Thruxton, Zelos was able to compare himself against many of his rivals at Rockingham. The 18-year-old Dereham-based hotshot served notice of intent by lapping fifth-fastest in the opening session behind the wheel of his distinctive #45 entry, leaving him in optimistic mood ahead of the Brands Hatch curtain-raiser on 1/2 April.
“I’m feeling good,” enthused the Norwich University of Arts Graphic Design undergrad and former Dereham Sixth Form College student. “The car looks awesome and certainly stands out on the track in its new livery. I’m excited about carrying the Evergreen colours again and repaying them for their loyal support by really doing the brand proud.
“I feel like I’m a completely different driver this year. I’ve reverted to the smoother style that worked well for me in Ginettas, and that really seems to be paying off. I feel mentally and physically stronger after working hard over the winter, and more confident in myself and my ability.
“We might only have had a few days in the car, but we’ve made the most of them and have got a lot of laps under our belt in both wet and dry conditions. We’ve been quick everywhere we’ve tested and I’ve been trading times with my team-mates at each circuit we’ve visited. In the first session at Rockingham, at least three of the four drivers ahead of me on the timesheets had new tyres on, whereas we ran on old rubber all day, so to set the kind of pace that we did was really encouraging.
“There’s a great atmosphere at WDE; I’ve already established an excellent relationship with my new mechanic, and I’m getting on well with the whole team and learning a lot. Paul Rivett in particular has so much experience of Clio competition, so to have the opportunity to compare feedback with him and draw upon his knowledge and expertise is a massive boost.
“It’s a big grid this year with a lot of strength-in-depth throughout the field from experienced drivers to rapid rookies, so we’re under no illusions about how tough it’s going to be but after gauging ourselves against the opposition, we know we’re definitely in the ballpark. I’m confident that between us, we can bring home plenty of trophies for WDE this year – so roll on Brands Hatch!”