Dan Zelos declared himself proud of his second title in the Vertu Motors MINI CHALLENGE after wrapping up the crown in the opening race of the weekend at Brands Hatch.

The EXCELR8 Motorsport driver went into the weekend holding a healthy lead over lone rival Will Orton and took his place on the grid for the opening race of the weekend knowing that a second JCW title was his if he finished ahead of the Hybrid Tune driver on track.

Although Sam Smith was able to secure the race win from pole, Zelos followed him home in second spot and that would be enough to give him an unassailable lead in the points with two races left to run – despite Orton scoring more points by virtue of finishing third but with fastest lap.

Zelos would go on to finish 16th and sixth in the remaining two races.

“It all feels a bit surreal because two years ago, there was all the pressure of it going down to the final race of the weekend and the fact that I was behind Max [Bird] in the points,” he said. “This time around we managed to do it a day early, which is a fantastic achievement.

“It’s all thanks to the team because they have given me an amazing car round after round, and for much of the season, we’ve been unstoppable. Last year was a really tough year for us, so to bounce back and win the title in the way we have puts the cherry on top.”

Zelos becomes the first driver to win a second championship at the wheel of the current JCW car, which was introduced into the series in 2015, making him one of a select number  of drivers to have two MINI CHALLENGE titles to their name.

“I don’t know if it’s a sign that I’ve been here too long if I’ve won the title twice!” he said. “It’s great because I love being part of the Vertu Motors MINI CHALLENGE and I love being part of EXCELR8 because it’s like one big family.

“The battle with Will this season has been fantastic, and it’s been a fair fight throughout the season. I’ve known Will for a while and have watched his development as a driver; he’s someone who has a bright future ahead of him.”