Jordan King had another positive weekend at Donington Park in Rounds three and four of the 2011 Formula Renault 2.0 UK Championship, the Warwickshire racer picking up a solid top six finish in the weekends second race.
A frustrating weekend at Brands Hatch for the Manor Competition driver saw him take eighth and ninth in the two races after set up issues in qualifying put him down the field, with overtaking at the Kent circuit limited. He headed into the second meeting of the year hoping to take a step forward and challenge for top five finishes.
The 17 year old said: “I was disappointed after Brands Hatch. It hadn't been the best start to the season, and that was largely down to qualifying – so the main focus for Donington was to qualify better. I really like the track – it's a mega circuit! It's really hard to get the downhill run through the Old Hairpin right; the minimum speed at the apex is something like 112mph, which is ridiculously quick, and it was a bit hairy going in there at times!
“We had tested at Donington during the winter, but in the torrential rain, so Thursday practice was my first proper run in the dry – and in Formula Renault UK, you only really get two sessions in the car to get used to the track and get the set-up sorted ahead of the race weekend.
“In the first session, we went out on old tyres and ended up only 17 hundredths off the pace, which was encouraging; we then put new tyres on for the second session, but we didn't really get a long run because of a red flag. Still, we closed to less than a tenth off and were the quickest of the four Manor Competition drivers, and I was happy with our speed and consistency and felt like we were in good shape for the weekend.”
Qualifying ended up leaving King frustrated though, with set-up problems and a flat-spotted tyre leaving him just sixth and eleventh on the grid for the two races.
The BRDC Rising Star said: “I was very disappointed with that outcome after the speed we had shown in practice. I think the main problem in the first session was that I didn't get my tyres up to temperature before I started to push – they were only at about 85 per cent of their optimum temperature. That meant I didn't get the best out of them and it left me five tenths off, so that's just another lesson to learn for the future. I'm on a learning curve at the end of the day, and it's all good experience.”
The Princethorpe College student lost out to team-mate Josh Hill early on in race one, dropping to seventh, the place he eventually finished, making him second of the Graduate Cup runners. Race two would see him gain a few places as he ended the race eighth on the road, once again Graduate runner up, before gaining two places when rivals were excluded to finish sixth.
King commented: “I was just aiming to make up as many places as I could from where I was starting! I managed to get past Mitchell Gilbert into the first corner, but then coming out of the Craner Curves towards the Old Hairpin, someone had spun ahead. I had to slow down to get through the gap, but when I went to accelerate again I was still in too high a gear so it wouldn't pull away and I lost time there. After that, I chased down, caught and overtook Oscar King, but the gap ahead to Josh was too big to close.”
The Hugo Boss ambassador, who now heads to the next rounds at Thruxton seventh in the standings and second in the Graduate Cup class, added: “The first few races are all about making sure I learn as much as I can without making too many mistakes and then over the second half of the season, I can put all that into practice. Hopefully that will be the trend for the season, and then towards the end we can start getting some podiums.
“I really enjoyed Thruxton when we tested there over the winter; I came in after my first session with a huge smile on my face and just said, 'it's brilliant!' It's pretty much flat-out in seventh gear the whole way round the lap in the dry with an average speed of about 135mph, which is simply insane! The goal for the weekend has to be to keep learning and come away with a couple of decent finishes; it's one of the harder circuits on the calendar without a doubt – but one that I'm definitely looking forward to!”