Jordan King ramped up his efforts to steal the 2012 Formula Renault Northern European Cup (NEC) laurels with an eye-catching podium hat-trick in the latest outing at Mostmeaning the talented young Warwickshire single-seater ace will go into the final two rounds still very much in contention to clinch the coveted crown.
King returned to Most with happy memories of the challenging Czech circuit, having claimed his maiden NEC rostrum there 12 months earlierbut also aware that he would be on the back foot somewhat.
I really like the track, he underlined. I always enjoy the tracks Im quick at! Its all medium-speed corners, and you never really get a break around the lap. I was confident we would be on the pace there after last year, but those drivers who are not officially registered to compete in the Formula Renault Eurocupwhich included my two main championship rivalswere offered a test session in the build-up to the race weekend whereas the rest of us werent, and that gave them an advantage in dry conditions right from the start.
Notwithstanding impressively setting the quickest time out of the 33 NEC contenders in practice in the wet, King headed into qualifying the next day with no dry running at Most since 2011. That lack of experience in comparison with his two principal adversaries told as the highly-rated Stoneleigh-based speed demon wound up third on the grid for races one and two, missing pole position for the first of them by less than four hundredths of a second after having to overtake another car on his hot lap. Nonetheless, he was well in the ballpark.
The Manor MP Motorsport boys did a great job of perfecting the set-up and balance of my car, he affirmed. In race one, I got a really good start and passed the championship leader Jake Dennis to slot in behind the pole-sitter, but then going into Turn One, I found myself boxed in and with nowhere to go.
That dropped me to fourth, but once the race settled down a bit, I caught and overhauled the drivers in second and third. Unfortunately, by that stage, the leader was about five seconds ahead and with our lap times being so similar, I was never going to catch him without taking some massive risks. He had newer tyres than us, too, so I settled for second as I was still ahead of Jake.
Justifiably proud of his overtaking prowess and encouraged by his pace on older rubberwith a fastest lap a scant hundredth of a second adrift of the best outrightKing entered race two fired-up to further reduce the deficit separating him from the championship lead.
I got a really good start again to pull alongside Jake on the drag down towards Turn One, but he squeezed me and forced me towards the pit wall, recounted the 18-year-old British Racing Drivers Club (BRDC) Rising Star and MSA Academy member. That knocked me down to fifth, but I recovered one position almost immediately and then closed in on the top three.
I moved into second behind Jake and tried to pass him, but he defended so heavily that we both lost ground and I slipped to sixth. I reclaimed fourth by the end and he then received a ten-second penalty for dangerous driving following the incident at the start, which promoted me to third. The most annoying thing was that I was much quicker than the two drivers who finished ahead of me, but all the battling was really costly.
King corroborated his conviction by setting comfortably the fastest lap of the race, and he would bring his weekend to a positive conclusion by similarly outscoring Dennis in the third and final encounterand tallying his eighth podium finish of the 2012 NEC campaign.
I was fifth on the reverse grid but got another excellent start to leap immediately up to second, he recounted. We were several cars-abreast going into the first corner; I was on the outside, but I think one of the other guys didnt see me as he moved straight across and pushed me onto the grass. That dropped me to fourth and then there was a close fight at the front. I picked one of them off to regain third and gradually reeled in the two leaders, but we just ran out of laps. We definitely had the speed to win again.
Still by some margin the highest scorer of the meetingnarrowing his gap to the top of the points table from 64 to 51 in the processthe Hugo Boss brand ambassador might be approaching the last five races as the hunter in the title duel, but he is also irrefutably the man with the momentum on his side. Whats more, he has a strong track record at both of the remaining two circuitsZandvoort in the Netherlands and legendary Belgian Grand Prix venue Spa-Francorchampsso nothing is decided yet.
Although were up against it a little, just one DNF for Jake could turn everything around, he reflected. Victory has been a long time coming this year, but our focus at Zandvoort and Spa has to be on winning races to really put him under some pressure. Thats all we can do. Its all-or-nothing now!