He might not have come away with the results he would have liked – or, indeed, the results that he palpably deserved – but talented young Warwickshire car racing rookie Jordan King nonetheless took sufficient positives and encouragement from the 2011 Formula Renault UK season finale at Silverstone to leave him bullish in the extreme looking to the future.
After experimenting with various different set-up options during qualifying, Jordan lined up eighth on the grid for each of the two races around the celebrated ‘Home of British Motor Racing’, although he admitted to being disappointed with that, especially given that in such a tightly-packed field, a mere quarter-of-a-second would have put him on the front row for the opening encounter. He entered the races determined to make amends and move forwards through the pack.
“I got a good start in race one to gain two places,” recalled the highly-rated Stoneleigh-based speed demon. “I ran sixth until just three laps from the end, but Jack Hawksworth ahead in fourth was really slow and that was stacking everybody up.
“Tio Ellinas made a move on him, but I was a touch over-ambitious in my attempt to capitalise on that by trying to follow through. Hawksworth had enough momentum to be able to maintain his position over me, and the upshot was that the driver behind snuck up my inside just like I had tried to do to Jack, so I ended up losing rather than benefitting and finished seventh. “I had another strong start in race two and made up one place immediately. I then went side-by-side with Felix Serralies and got a good run on him before passing him for sixth heading down into the next corner. Under braking for Maggotts, I got alongside Ellinas on the outside and put some pressure on him, but then Serrales drove into the back of Tio and pushed him into me, which sent me spinning round.
“Luckily, there was no damage, but it left me down at the back of the field when I should have been fifth or sixth – and with Alex Lynn later falling off, I could even have been fourth. Our speed was good enough to have finished a lot higher up than we did. My team-mate Josh Hill ended up fifth, and we were three tenths a lap quicker than him...”
With a number of his rivals picking up penalties for cutting part of the circuit, the 17-year-old BRDC Rising Star ultimately took the chequered flag eighth, but still that fell some way short of what might have been. As he reflected upon ‘another good weekend overall, and definitely another useful learning experience’ that frustratingly culminated in ‘annoying’ fashion, it has, indeed, been a season of ‘what-ifs’ – of which his fortunes at Silverstone were entirely emblematic.
Following the surprise departure of experienced team-mate Ollie Millroy four rounds in, Jordan found himself thrust unexpectedly into the role of effective team leader in his debut campaign in cars – a situation that he acknowledged was ‘tough’, but a challenge to which he rose magnificently as he handled the tremendous pressure and responsibility with all the calmness and maturity of a seasoned veteran. That the Princethorpe College student was consistently the quickest Manor Competition driver on the track spoke volumes.
“It has been a hard season,” he mused in conclusion. “If we had got the results we should have done, it would certainly have made things easier as it would have been a confidence boost. In that sense, it was a very disappointing year, but on the other hand, it was very successful, too, with a pole position, fastest lap and podium finish in my rookie campaign.
“Our pace has been good all the way through, and there were several races where we ran right up at the front but for whatever reason didn’t finish there – it’s just been that sort of season, really. We definitely should have won at Snetterton but for being taken out so close to the end, and there were other times when the podium was there or within sight and it was either thrown away or snatched away from us.
“The whole year has been a massive learning curve and I have learned so much, and my racecraft and overtaking ability have benefitted hugely from that – the more experience I’ve gained, the fewer mistakes I’ve been making.
“My engineer Tony and I have worked together well, and I’ve improved a lot as a driver; that was noticeable when we returned to Brands Hatch towards the end of the season – I was braking later and felt so much happier and more confident in the car than I had been during the first meeting there back in April. I’m a lot stronger all-round now – and I can take that into next year.”