Team boss tips King to challenge as Europe beckons in 2012
After dipping his toe into the water on the international stage in 2011 with a handful of exploratory outings in the Formula Renault Northern European Cup (NEC) and FIA Formula Two Championship, talented Warwickshire single-seater star Jordan King has been touted as one to watch in 2012 – as he steps up to the European scene full-time with Manor MP Motorsport.
During his maiden campaign of car racing competition off the back of a highly successful karting career, Jordan drove for Manor Competition in the 2011 Formula Renault UK Championship – cruelly being denied what would have been a brilliant breakthrough victory at Snetterton by a rival’s clumsy passing attempt – and MP Motorsport in Formula Renault NEC, tallying four podium finishes and sensationally storming to pole position around legendary Italian Grand Prix venue Monza.
Having duly served his single-seater apprenticeship, the highly-rated Stoneleigh-based speed demon and BRDC Rising Star admits he was ‘tempted’ by flattering offers from teams eager to run him further up the ladder in GP3 and Formula 3 this year, but evincing the very wise head he keeps on such young shoulders, Jordan resolved that in only his second season out of karts, the best approach would be to remain in Formula Renault, albeit this time raising the bar with a full-scale assault on both the Northern European Cup and the fiercely-contested Eurocup.
There, the Princethorpe College A-Level student will pit himself directly against no fewer than 33 international adversaries of the very highest calibre – the F1 stars of tomorrow, in other words – around circuits including Paul Ricard, Hungaroring, Catalunya and the legendary Nürburging and Spa-Francorchamps, some of which will be uncharted territory. With Manor Competition and MP Motorsport having joined forces, however, he will at least be in familiar surroundings right from the ‘off’ – and he is palpably excited about the challenge that lies ahead.
“I’m really looking forward to it all,” Jordan enthused. “Having been to some of the tracks before – and having been quick around them – is a massive confidence boost, and I know all the Manor guys well, of course, and also got to know the MP Motorsport boys during the few races I did with them last year. There’s no need to build new relationships, and both crews are a great bunch of lads.
“Going to Europe is definitely the best way to advance my career. There’s no question in my mind that it’s the right move now – the logical next step. You need to be constantly pushing yourself beyond your comfort zone – that’s what it’s all about.
“By the same token, I’m under absolutely no illusions about what I’m going into – the competition is going to be massive! There will be a huge number of cars on the grid, and quite a few of the circuits will be new to me again, so I’m facing another learning curve. All-told, it’s probably going to be the toughest year I’ve had in my racing career so far, but I want it to be another successful one and to make progress again.
“I’m feeling pretty confident, and I’m excited about the prospect of racing on some real F1 circuits. When I first began racing, I watched F1 and that was where I wanted to be – so to now be driving around some of the same tracks is a little bit surreal! I’ve got to where I dreamt I might one day be, and racing around the same places as my heroes. I can’t wait to get started!”
With only official championship testing permitted before the seasons rev into life at Hockenheim in Germany in April (NEC) and Motorland Aragón in Spain in May (Eurocup), Jordan’s recent competitive experience in the New Zealand-based Toyota Racing Series could ultimately transpire to be valuable indeed – but either way, Manor MP Motorsport team manager Tony Shaw is convinced that the 18-year-old Hugo Boss brand ambassador is well-placed to make the most of his new opportunity by featuring up at the sharp end right from the start.
“Jordan’s progress in 2011 was excellent considering the fact that he was pretty much the fastest driver in the team,” reflected the man whose Nottinghamshire-based outfit still retains links and shares a livery with Marussia F1, formerly Virgin Racing. “That meant that in his first year he didn’t have anyone to push him on when his experience was a little short. However, he made some fantastic leaps forward and as ever with quality drivers, it was at the grippier tracks in warmer conditions that we saw his ability shine through.
“Jordan has learnt so much about where the limit is and how to push to it but not over it and he is an incredibly smooth driver, very accurate and with excellent feedback. Confidence-boosting results were on the cards very early on, and by mid-season he was leading a race comfortably only to be knocked out a lap from home.
“The races abroad went exceptionally well against the cream of the Eurocup, and I think having more cars on the grid and perhaps a happier atmosphere in the paddock helped Jordan to really make the difference. As for this season, well, we are a superstitious lot in racing so I wouldn’t want to make a prediction as such, but saying that, we aim to challenge at every event – and with Jordan, we’ve certainly got the driver we want in that regard!”