Dan Zelos rebounded well from his dramatic exit from the final Vertu Motors MINI CHALLENGE race of the weekend at Donington Park with a second straight pole position at Brands Hatch.

Forced to switch to a spare car due to the damage sustained to his regular machine when he was collected by Sam Smith, Zelos was able to edge out Joe Tanner in the fight for pole – marking the sixth time he has qualified at the head of the field in the JCW class.

That equalled the record of six, held by Nathan Harrison and Rob Smith.

The session would be held in tricky conditions as a result of light rain falling over the Kent circuit which left the track too wet for slick tyres and put all of the field onto wets.

Zelos was the early pace-setter in the session and it appeared that his position at the front of the field would be set in stone when the rain started to get heavier mid-way through.

However, the closing minutes would see conditions improve enough for a selection of drivers to go quicker – with Tanner briefly manage to wrestle provisional pole from the former champion.

Zelos would go quicker still to reclaim top spot and would end up just 0.074s clear of Tanner to earn his second pole in as many events.

“Huge thanks to EXCELR8 for getting a car built up to 2023 spec and getting me here this weekend – this is the perfect way to start,” Zelos admitted. “It feels a bit alien being in a different car as I’d had my other one for four years, and you can’t expect to jump into a new machine and it feel the same.

“We had to make the most of practice yesterday and the team has managed to get the car feeling as close to the old one as possible – it feels mega. The conditions in qualifying were tough as we had to make sure we were on track was at its best and also manage the tyres. We managed to put it together and it’s a great job by everyone.”

Behind Tanner, points leader Will Orton slotted into third spot – declaring himself pleased with his pace in the session – with Bradley Gravett taking fourth spot as he looks to bounce back from a challenging start to the campaign at Donington Park.

Jamie Osborne was another driver in the wars during round one but grabbed fifth on the grid ahead of JamSport’s Marlo Cordell, with Oliver Meadows and Lydia Walmsley rounding out the top eight.

Barry Ward – at his local circuit – was another driver who was able to improve his time in the closing stages of the session and jumped up into ninth, with the top ten being completed by Nelson King.

In total, 15 of the 22 drivers present this weekend lapped within a second of pole.