It has, by his own admission, been ‘a long time coming’, but a mature and composed performance has earned Jordan King his maiden victory in the Formula Renault Northern European Cup (NEC) at Zandvoort in the Netherlands – and kept him in title contention with just one meeting of the 2012 campaign remaining.
King travelled to Zandvoort sitting 51 points adrift of championship leader Jake Dennis in the chase for the NEC crown, and needing to stay within 60 markers of his compatriot or else kiss his hopes of lifting the laurels goodbye. Having impressed with his form around the demanding Dutch circuit on his debut there 12 months earlier, though, the talented young Warwickshire ace was in optimistic mood.
“We just had to try to score as many points as possible,” he candidly reflected. “We knew we had a mountain to climb and that we were up against it, but we had to give it a go and I was confident we would be quick round Zandvoort, because we’d gone well there last year. It’s a circuit that I really enjoy driving – it’s very technical and undulating, alternating fast, blind corners with tight-and-twisty sections, which rewards an aggressive approach behind the wheel.”
Opting to save his new tyres for the races during practice unfortunately cost the highly-rated Stoneleigh-based speed demon in qualifying, as his lack of experience on the fresher rubber hampered him in relation to his adversaries. That left him a ‘disappointing’ sixth on the 23-strong grid for race one and fourth for race two, albeit a mere four tenths of a second shy of the benchmark and still very much in the ballpark.
From there, King’s efforts to progress in the opening encounter were persistently thwarted by a particularly defensive rival, consequently taking the chequered flag fifth when he was convinced he’d had the pace to fight for the podium.
Worse was to follow in race two, however, as the 18-year-old British Racing Drivers’ Club (BRDC) Rising Star and MSA Academy member found himself squeezed towards the pit wall at the start, and as he was swamped by the marauding pack, he lost the front wing of his Manor MP Motorsport single-seater in the ensuing first corner mêlée. After pitting for a replacement and rejoining at the rear of the field, the second-fastest lap time – beaten only by the winner – simply went to underline what might have been.
With his deficit to the championship leader widening to 69 points, King’s prospects looked bleak, but from second on the reverse grid in the weekend’s third and final outing the next day, the Hugo Boss brand ambassador turned the situation around in style to keep himself mathematically in the hunt ahead of October’s season finale, set to take place appropriately enough at legendary Belgian Grand Prix venue Spa-Francorchamps, arguably the greatest drivers’ track of all.
“I got a good start and went all the way around the outside of the pole-sitter into Turn One,” he recounted. “We had new tyres on, and I pulled away over the first couple of laps until the safety car came out. After that, there was a short sprint before the safety car re-appeared for an accident, and then another short sprint followed by a red flag.
“We only had a handful of actual racing laps; that was a bit frustrating, but I managed all the re-starts well and was always able to extend my lead – we set fastest lap by more than a third-of-a-second. It did mean that my first corner move was crucial, though, because with the way the race panned out, if I hadn’t got past there it would likely have been pretty tough. It was all won at the start.
“This result has definitely been a long time coming, and it’s so good to finally get the monkey off my back after so many second and third places. It felt a little bit surreal, to tell the truth, because there wasn’t even a chequered flag, but it was a win all-the-same and one that has maintained the pressure on Jake and kept the championship battle alive into the last round. Ok, it’s a nigh-on impossible task now at 55 points behind, but as long as there’s still the remotest of chances, we’ll keep on pushing – stranger things have happened…”
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