Jordan King rebounded from a fast-but-fruitless opening weekend in the Toyota Racing Series at Teretonga with a podium charge second time out at Timaru, as he underlined his status as one of the most talented young single-seater stars in either hemisphere.
The Toyota Racing Series is New Zealand’s most fiercely competitive single-seater championship, and the one-make, slicks n’ wings formula – marrying a Tatuus-designed carbon-fibre chassis to a 215bhp Toyota engine – guarantees a level playing field. That being so, qualifying second-quickest amongst the 19 contenders on his debut at Teretonga – a mere whisker shy of the benchmark around a circuit he had never so much as set eyes upon before – saw Jordan lay down an early marker.
“I really enjoyed the track,” enthused the 17-year-old Stoneleigh-based speed demon. “Even though the lap was quite short and didn’t take me particularly long to learn, it was still very demanding and posed plenty of new challenges. The level of competition is strong, too, and it was all a bit of a step into the unknown for me since I hadn’t raced against any of the other drivers in cars before. Our pace was really good in practice, though, and we put everything we learnt into qualifying and found the last extra bit that we needed.”
A flurry of bad luck come the three rain-afflicted races resulted in a brace of failures to finish – albeit briefly leading and going on to lap second-quickest in the first of them, faster than the winner – and a solitary tenth place, far less than Jordan deserved. Undeterred, the BRDC Rising Star vowed to fight back a week later at Timaru – and he did so in fine style.
Qualifying in eighth position – in front, once more, of his highly-rated, Ferrari-backed M2 Competition team-mate Raffaele Marciello – the Princethorpe College student converted that form into seventh spot in race one, less .
“It was actually a very challenging circuit and it took a session to get to grips with,” Jordan recalled, “but I ended testing at the top of the timesheets. We seemed to lose a little bit of speed in qualifying, though, and combined with traffic, that left us only eighth when we should have been inside the top five or maybe even top three.
“The first race was tough, with very little opportunity to overtake; that was a shame, as our pace was easily good enough for the top five. In race two, the conditions were quite slippery and I was very quick again over the opening laps, and as other drivers made mistakes towards the end and went off, we picked up some places and wound up third, which I was really pleased about – it’s always good to finish on the podium.
“In race three, I was in fifth pretty much throughout and right up behind the gearbox of the driver ahead. On the last lap, I successfully pulled off a move on him to take fourth position, but then unfortunately I missed a downshift and ran wide, which left me sixth.”
That minor disappointment aside, the Timaru weekend was nonetheless a wholeheartedly positive one for the Hugo Boss brand ambassador, and as he looks ahead now to the remaining outings at Taupo, Hampton Downs and Manfeild, Jordan does so justifiably buoyant about his prospects.
“The form we’ve shown so far is very encouraging,” he concluded, “and I think we’ve proved that our speed is good enough to win.”