Jordan King enjoyed 'a big step forward' during Rounds Five and Six of the 2011 Formula Renault UK Championship at Thruxton. In only his third outing in the series, the Manor Competition narrowly missed out on pole position in qualifying, before challenging for podium finishes in both races.
The Warwickshire driver headed to the high-speed Hampshire circuit with confidence high, saying: “We had been quick here in testing, so I was feeling pretty happy with everything and aiming to get a couple of decent results out of the weekend – because we haven't really had any yet this season! I love the circuit, mainly because it's just so fast – you're doing about 155mph down the back straight with quite a bit of grip, and it's the first track we've been to this year where overtaking is really possible if you get a good run on the driver ahead. It's perfect for Formula Renault UK.”
After lapping second quickest in both practice session, Jordan felt he had the pace to go and grab pole position in qualifying; however his efforts were scuppered by a rival.
The 17 year old explained: “On my last lap in session one, I was quickest through the first sector and it was all looking good. I only had the final chicane to go and I would have been on pole, but Olly Rowland had spun and stopped at the exit of it, and with the yellow flags out, I had to lift off and go round him, which cost me three tenths of a second.”
The data proves Jordan would have taken pole with the lap, but he ended up six hundredths of a second off. King described the session as 'very positive' but 'extremely annoying', which he could also have used to describe race one.
Stoneleigh-based King said: “I made a good start and got around the outside of the pole-sitter, Alex Lynn, but then I had a problem with the gearbox shifting up from fourth to fifth, which cost me a bit of time. I lost half-a-car's length, which allowed Lynn to edge back alongside me and left me on the outside for the first chicane, and with Tio Ellinas following Alex line-astern right behind, I had nowhere to tuck into and slipped to third.
“I then got a really good run on Ellinas going down the back straight and pulled alongside, but he just sideswiped me onto the grass. That spun me round, and I came back onto the track facing the wrong way. It's pretty scary having cars coming directly towards you at more than 150mph and I was just praying for no-one to hit me, and fortunately nobody did.”
The BRDC Rising Star soldiered on to the finish with a damaged undertray and despute his rival getting penalty points on their license and a fine, King was still frustrated with being taken out the race. He aimed to put it behind him in race two, which he started from fifth.
Looking back at race two, King reflected: “I moved up to third straightaway, which was good, and shortly afterwards I got onto the back of Rowland in second and managed to pass him into the chicane – I went up the inside and ran him out wide on the exit – but then I just made a real schoolboy, amateur mistake and spun, which dropped me right down the order. Looking at the lap times afterwards, we were definitely quick enough to have held onto second place, and we may even have been able to challenge for the win…”
He finished tenth at the flag, frustrated with his 'schoolboy' error, but pleased with his progress, as one of the least experienced drivers on the grid. The Hugo Boss brand ambassador now heads to the new meeting at Oulton Park hoping to continue this good form and pick up a maiden podium finish.
King concluded: “It was another frustrating weekend in terms of results, but we had the pace to be on pole and to fight for the podium, which was a massive improvement over the previous couple of meetings. It was a shame that we were unlucky in the first race and that I made the mistake in the second, but there were lots of positives, too. Everything came together at Thruxton – we all seemed to work in a much more structured manner inside the team, and we made progress all the way through. We definitely took a big step forward.”