Jordan King enjoyed a strong start to his 2011 Formula Renault 2.0 UK Championship campaign at Brands Hatch, with two top-ten finishes seeing the Manor Competition take the early lead in the Graduate Cup class.
He headed into the weekend in a confident mood, with an extensive winter testing schedule allowing him to get to grips with the Formula Renault machine.
The 17-year-old commented: “Going into the race weekend, I was feeling confident after testing that we would be quick. Although it is a comparatively small grid in Formula Renault UK this year, the calibre of the drivers is very high – but I didn't feel we had anything particularly to worry about.”
With the BRDC Rising Star setting the second and fourth fastest times overall in Friday practice, things were looking good ahead of qualifying. However a wrong set-up tweak and a change in conditions put King on the back foot, leaving him only about to set the seventh and ninth fastest times for the two races.
The Warwickshire-based driver commented: “I don't think we collectively got everything together quite right in qualifying. We made some small alterations, but they unfortunately took us in the wrong direction. The track had changed between practice and qualifying – it was a little bit 'greener' and greasier – and it didn't seem to suit the car quite as well as the previous day. I was disappointed with my grid positions, and I knew the races were going to be difficult from there and that it would be tough to make up much ground.
With overtaking proving difficult on the Brands Hatch Indy circuit, King was unable to make progress through the field, eventually finishing eighth and ninth in the two races. The results saw the Princethorpe College student finish the weekend seventh in the championship standings, top of the Graduate Cup class.
He added:“In race one, I got a good start and tried to go up the inside of another driver into the first corner, but I backed out of it a little bit when he started to come across on me. In hindsight, that was a mistake because it cost me time and one of my team-mates was able to get past me – and that was pretty much it as far as any action was concerned! Everybody was within a tenth of a second or so of each other, so you could be a tenth faster than the driver ahead, but you were never going to get past.
“In the second race, the driver directly in front of me stalled on the grid and I had to go round him, which slowed me down and meant I couldn't attack anybody into the first corner. Then going into Druids, the driver ahead had left the door open so I went to the inside, but he quickly closed the door again which left me trapped. One of my team-mates managed to get around the outside, which put him on the inside line for the following corner – so after all that, I ended up finishing where I had started!
“Our speed in the races was actually very good. It's just so hard to overtake around a circuit like that, and as it's such a short lap, you can't really do very much. It was good experience to get under my belt and I'm happy that we're in the ballpark pace-wise, but I was just so disappointed that qualifying didn't go well, because that meant we weren't able to show what we could really do. It was a shame that we couldn't convert our potential into at least a top five finish, but it's looking promising for the rest of the season.”