Jordan King enjoyed his best weekend of the season so far in the latest rounds of the 2011 Formula Renault 2.0 UK Championship at Croft, taking his maiden podium finish in the series around the twisty North Yorkshire circuit.
The Warwickshire driver admits he's a fan of the circuit and headed into qualifying in confident mood. Unfortunately the first session proved to be a disaster for the Manor Competition driver, with his tyres reaching their peak when the track wasn't, leaving him twelfth and last on the grid for the opening race.
The race didn't go too smoothly either, as King explains: “The clutch broke at the start, which meant I didn't get away properly. I lost a lot of time there, but I soon latched onto the back of the pack and when two drivers ahead ran a bit wide, I gained a couple of places.
“Later, I managed to get one of my team-mates up the inside into the hairpin, but then my steering column broke as well which made the car horrible to drive. There was no feeling, and I was having to hold the steering wheel up instead of it being in a fixed position. That was probably the biggest issue I've ever had to deal with during a race, and it restricted me to ninth place at the end.”
Jordan began the second race from ninth, after another tricky qualifying session. The BRDC Rising Star set him time early on in the rain, but when it unexpectedly stopped soon after, drivers who hadn't gambled on lapping early were able to lap faster.
Starting from the fifth row, the 17 year old knew he had a lot of work to do, commenting: “At the start, I got past Josh Hill up the inside into the first corner, but I got a slow exit and lost a bit of time to the group in front. I also got a hit from behind going through the second corner, but whilst that bent the floor of the car slightly, fortunately it didn't seem to affect its performance.
“The drivers ahead then got into a bit of a squabble, and on the exit of Tower Bend I managed get past one of them, which moved me up to seventh and on the next lap, someone else ploughed straight into the tyres at the chicane which meant I was sixth.
“I caught the group fighting over third, and as I got onto the back of them, there was a coming-together between a couple of them into the last corner and I was able to out-drag them both on the exit. I pulled away and focussed on trying to catch the drivers in second and third, and one of them went off in front of me as the rain started falling again.
“When that happened, we seemed to find the grip immediately whilst everyone else was still looking for it, and that enabled me to get on it pretty quickly. I kept putting myself in the right place at the right time, made a few moves on people and put pressure on when I needed to – and that meant the gaps opened up. We had the pace, and once I was in third, I started closing on the driver ahead by about a second-a-lap. If I'd needed points to fight for the championship or something like that, for sure I'd have kept on pushing to try to catch him, but I'm not in that situation so I decided to slow it down a little and settle for third.”
King, although disappointed not to have qualified well and started at the front, was delighted with the result, concluding: “It was a little frustrating we couldn't have done it from the front, but it's a different achievement coming through from the back. We had a few problems over the course of the weekend, so to get my first podium in Formula Renault UK was a really good outcome at the end of it. Hopefully it will be the first of many, and we can take that confidence on to the next round.”