Front-running Brands Hatch effort sees King go fourth

As the 2011 Formula Renault UK Championship races towards its conclusion, Jordan King is going from strength-to-strength, with his latest outing around Brands Hatch’s legendary GP circuit yielding his second-best result of the campaign – although in truth, his performance deserved even more.

After facing the habitual disadvantage of lacking any prior racing experience around the majority of tracks on the calendar, Jordan headed to Brands – whose GP layout reverberated to the screaming strains of F1 cars on no fewer than 12 occasions between 1964 and 1986 – having competed there in Formula Two in July. That meant he would be on a rare level playing-field with his rivals – and it was an opportunity he would not squander.

“It obviously helps knowing where the braking-points are and what the corners are like and so forth,” mused the talented young Warwickshire car racing rookie. “Brands Hatch GP is a lot more fun than the shorter Indy layout that hosted the first round of the season; there’s much more of a challenge to it, and around the back half of the lap, all the corners are blind – you literally can’t see a thing, which makes it really exciting to drive.

“I was pretty confident going into the weekend; our speed has been good recently and the three podiums we achieved in the Formula Renault Northern European Cup at Monza had been a real boost, so I had no doubts that we would be up at the sharp end. We were there-or-thereabouts in practice – only a couple of tenths off the outright pace – and I knew we would be capable of challenging the front-runners after that.” Jordan professed himself satisfied with a brace of fourth positions in qualifying, optimistic that whilst the car felt good already, there was still more to come – and notably lapping the best part of a full second faster than both of his Manor Competition team-mates, who lined up much further down the order. In a sport in which relative form is measured by mere thousandths of a second, such a feat was mighty indeed.

“In the first race, I wasn’t quite quick enough to stay with the top three,” recollected the highly-rated Stoneleigh-based speed demon. “The best I could hope for was fourth, to be honest, unless they began fighting, which might have allowed me to close up. I was on the limit and racing hard every lap simply to keep them in view. We just needed that little bit more of an edge. 

“I was under no real pressure from behind, either, so I was in no-man’s-land for most of the race, and just had to focus on not making any mistakes. We were happy with fourth in the end. It was definitely a step forward, and given how difficult this season has been at times, it’s always encouraging to make progress.” 

A comfortable result in the final reckoning, it also represented Jordan’s second-highest finish of the 2011 Formula Renault UK campaign – but due to an early miscomprehension, race two would sadly swiftly develop into an altogether more frustrating encounter.

“I began to creep just slightly before the lights went out,” he explained. “Alex Lynn directly ahead of me jumped the start, and I half went, too, but managed to stop. When I did get going properly, I had a mega start and moved up to third, and then Lynn came into the pits at the end of lap one to serve a drive-through penalty, which put me second. 

“Next time around, though, they were still holding the jump-start board out, and because I had moved early as well, I assumed it was for me; we don’t have team radios to be able to check, and I thought I couldn’t risk not coming in, so I did, which dropped me down to the rear of the field. After the race, I was told the board had been kept out by mistake. It was my fault for not looking at it properly, and I just had to put it down to experience.

“It was massively disappointing, because we were definitely quick enough to have finished second, and I spent the whole evening after the race feeling really annoyed with myself. Still, on the positive side, we proved that we had the pace to run right up at the front.”

That much is indisputable, with faster lap times than the eventual runner-up – whom Jordan had been ahead of when he came in for the penalty that never was – corroborating the 17-year-old Princethorpe College student’s conviction that second place would have been on. Sitting seventh in the points table now – within striking-distance of sixth – the goal is palpably to make amends in the Silverstone season finale later this month.

“Our speed has clearly been there over the last few races,” he concluded, “so we’ve definitely got to be aiming for the podium at Silverstone, especially with it being the home of the British Racing Drivers’ Club and me being a BRDC Rising Star. The final race of the season sticks in the memory – people always remember that one – and I want to do the BRDC proud...and give myself a good boost to carry into the winter off-season, too.”