Dan Zelos will look to become the first driver to secure the JCW title on three occasions after confirming his return to the Vertu MINI CHALLENGE for the 2024 season.

Zelos, who won his first title in 2021 before reclaiming the crown last year, will continue to compete for the EXCELR8 squad – marking the sixth successive season that driver and team will have raced together.

Zelos’ title win last year came after a year-long battle with rookie rival Will Orton, with the 25-year-old enjoying a fine campaign that saw him score every pole position bar one and win half of the 20 races.

As a result, he has now scored more JCW class wins than any other driver in series history and will this season become the first driver to make 100 starts in the category.

Zelos will use his 2024 programme to show support for the charity Parkinson’s UK and will dovetail his JCW drive with his role as reserve driver for EXCELR8’s BTCC programme.

The JCW season kicks off at the end of the month at Donington Park.

“It’s no secret that we had been targeting a step-up to the BTCC for this season, but due to a variety of factors – from budget and timing to some personal reasons – it didn’t really fall into place,” Zelos said.
“The BTCC is still very much my long-term goal, but it would need to be a proper commitment with the right team and right package, not only for me but also for my sponsors. In the meantime, I want to ensure I’m racing in a competitive championship that gives me the best possible chance of putting myself in the shop window – and there is nowhere better to achieve that than the MINI CHALLENGE.
“I got back into the car a couple of weeks ago for the first time since winning the championship at Brands Hatch last October, and I settled into the rhythm very quickly, which was obviously encouraging. Mentally, I feel fully ready now to come back and defend my title, and performance-wise, I feel on top of my game.”

Zelos added that he expects a tough challenge on track from his rivals but was confident that his relationship with the EXCELR8 squad would prove to be key.

“There were a lot of drivers who put up an increasing fight as last season progressed, and they will be trying even harder this year to knock me off the top step,” he said, “but consistency has always been one of my biggest strengths and so is the continuity of staying with the same team – it’s one less variable to have to worry about.

“I know everybody very well on both a personal and professional level, and when I pitch up to a race weekend with the EXCELR8 guys and girls, it honestly feels like walking into my own home. 
“I still feel on a high from what we achieved last year, and I want to carry that form with me into Donington Park. Psychologically, and from a points-scoring perspective, it’s always important to get off to a good start so I’ll be going in all guns blazing to show that I mean business again, and aiming to set the bar high right from the outset.”