King opens 2012 account with Belgian brilliance in Formula Renault Eurocup

Jordan King banished the disappointment of a luckless opening round in the 2012 Formula Renault Eurocup at Motorland Aragón by scything his way past his adversaries to gain a staggering 15 positions and open his points account in style in the second outing at Spa-Francorchamps.

Having barely completed a racing lap in the Spanish curtain-raiser after finding himself on the receiving end of rivals’ errors, the talented young Warwickshire single-seater ace headed to legendary Belgian Grand Prix venue Spa with the primary objective of belatedly kick-starting his challenge with a solid points-scoring haul.

Describing it as ‘a mega circuit, especially when you manage to get everything hooked up perfectly on new tyres’ and lapping comfortably inside the top ten during practice, Jordan was subsequently frustrated in his efforts to post a representative time in Saturday’s yellow flag-punctuated qualifying session, leaving him a lowly 22nd on the grid for the opening encounter when he believed he had sufficient pace to trouble the top five. Not to worry – he would more than make amends come the race.

“I got probably the best start of my life to gain about six places,” recounted the highly-rated Stoneleigh-based speed demon. “I was then alongside another driver going up through Eau Rouge, but I don’t think he saw me because he turned in and squeezed me to the edge of the track and onto the grass – and Eau Rouge is not the kind of place you want that to happen! 

“I hit the brakes to avoid an accident, but that caused me to lock up and cost me all my momentum down the following straight – as well as all the ground I had made up! That was annoying, but I moved to the outside for Les Combes, which put me on the inside for the following corner and I took a couple of places back there. “Heading down the hill towards Rivage, the drivers immediately ahead were all protecting the inside line, so I went to the outside again and as they stacked up and slowed each other down, I braked as late as I dared and swept right the way around them to move up to 15th. 

“Knowing that I would need to overtake well, before the race, my team Manor MP Motorsport had made a great call with the wing settings on my car, which gave me a lot of top speed and enabled me to breeze past people down the straights; so long as I could hold onto them through the corners and stay in their tow long enough, I knew I’d always have a great chance of getting past. 

“The car felt good and the strategy worked perfectly, allowing me to progress as far as seventh by the end. We were all really pleased with that given where we had started, and with just a couple more laps, I’m convinced we could have finished inside the top five. It was a brilliant way to demonstrate our racecraft having not had the chance at Aragón!” 

Taking the chequered flag less than eight seconds adrift of the winner and best-placed of the nine Brits in the 42-strong Eurocup field, it was a superb effort, but in a wet qualifying session the next day, traffic and timing saw Jordan slip helplessly down the order right at the close, meaning he would begin Sunday’s contest just 16th.

“I gained a few spots at the start, but then the race was stopped due to a massive crash,” related the 18-year-old British Racing Drivers’ Club (BRDC) Rising Star and MSA Academy member. “After the re-start, conditions were so bad that I literally couldn’t see anything. With 11 cars in front of me all throwing up spray, visibility was near non-existent. 

“I’ve never raced in anything like it before – your survival instinct kicks in, and as I couldn’t make out the apexes or where the edge of the track was, I was having to judge my braking-points by bits of grass or kerbs. By the time I had settled into a rhythm, caught the group ahead and was lining up to attack, the race was red-flagged again! I reckon we could probably have fought our way into the top ten had it run to its full length, but on the plus side, at least we finished when a lot of drivers didn’t.”

With only six racing laps completed in the torrential conditions, to place 12th was something of a minor triumph in itself, and having vaulted from nowhere in the title standings into the top 15 – just six points shy of the top ten – Jordan admits he will approach the following round at the Nürburgring in Germany with justifiable optimism.

“Overall, it was a positive weekend,” mused the Princethorpe College student and Hugo Boss brand ambassador. “We’ve got ourselves off the mark in the championship, and Saturday’s race was one of the most enjoyable of my career. We proved we’ve got the speed, we learnt a lot and now I’m just looking forward to progressing even further at the Nürburgring.”

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