Jordan King broadened his racing horizons when he took to the wheel of a state-of-the-art, 500bhp Audi RS 5 DTM machine at Monteblanco circuit in Spain during a young driver evaluation test – and he admitted that it was both an instructive and eye-opening experience.
The gifted Warwickshire ace earned the assessment opportunity as a reward for finishing as one of the top two Volkswagen-powered competitors in the fiercely-contested FIA Formula 3 European Championship in 2013 – placing an excellent sixth overall and claiming leading rookie honours.
Indeed, his success did not stop there, as during the course of a stellar maiden campaign at Formula 3 level, King was also crowned British Formula Three International Series Champion at the first time of asking and posted no fewer than three fastest laps en route to a superb fifth position in the prestigious end-of-season Macau F3 Grand Prix in his Carlin-prepared Dallara single-seater.
Those achievements and his palpable promise and potential brought him onto the radar of multiple DTM champions Audi, who invited the 19-year-old to Monteblanco near Seville for its annual talent-scouting event. There, he was joined by seven supremely high-calibre contemporaries from a variety of racing disciplines, including Sauber F1 test and reserve driver Robin Frijns, a winner of three notable international championships in as many years. To describe the outstanding octet as the ‘in-crowd’ would be quite the understatement.
King benefitted from expert guidance and tuition from Audi Sport Team Abt factory drivers Timo Scheider – two times a DTM champion – and Adrien Tambay, son of former grand prix-winner Patrick Tambay, as he ensconced himself inside the cockpit of a very different kind of racing car to what he has been accustomed to thus far in his burgeoning career. For starters, he found himself with a roof above his head.
“I was really excited about it,” confessed the British Racing Drivers’ Club (BRDC) SuperStar and recently-promoted MSA Team UK member. “I’d covered ten laps in a DTM Mercedes at the end of last year as part of the McLaren Autosport Award shoot-out at Silverstone, but it was cold and wet so conditions weren’t very representative and I was really looking forward to having a proper go on a dry track with new tyres.
“It did feel quite different to my F3 car; the basics are obviously very similar, but the nuances are in their distinct characteristics. The F3 is more responsive, but the flipside is that you can manhandle the DTM car a bit more and bounce over the kerbs – whereas in the F3, you wouldn’t dare touch them! You can get the Audi slightly sideways and it’s no major issue. That does demand a slightly different driving style, but fundamentally it’s still a racing car – and a very good racing car, too.”
During what was an extensive testing programme both on-and-off the track, King was put through his paces in a number of different aspects from out-and-out raw speed over a single lap to longer race simulation runs, technical understanding, media skills, feedback on changes made to the car and working closely and productively with Audi’s cohort of mechanics and engineers.
“It was a really interesting and enjoyable experience and extremely beneficial,” underlined the rapid Stoneleigh-based hotshot and Hugo Boss brand ambassador. “We received plenty of helpful advice from Timo and Adrien, and the engineers took a lot of time to explain the car to us as well.
“The DTM Audi was a lot of fun to drive; it’s a very technologically-advanced piece of kit and probably the nearest thing to a single-seater outside of an actual single-seater. We didn’t have that long to learn and adapt to its intricacies, but I felt like I got to grips with it fairly quickly and I just concentrated on doing a solid job and giving a good account of myself. I completed a 14-lap stint on the second day and I was pleased with my consistency.
“There were some top-drawer drivers in attendance, but I don’t think I showed myself up in any respect; everybody seemed to be quite close in terms of outright lap times, with approximately half-a-second blanketing all eight of us. There were a few areas I could probably have improved upon, but overall, I was satisfied with my performance.
“I’m firmly focussed on single-seaters at the moment and on my ultimate goal of making it to F1, but this test has definitely opened up my eyes to alternative options for the future.”
“We regard this event as an investment,” explained Audi’s Head of DTM, Dieter Gass. “We’re absolutely happy with our existing driver line-up, but we still like to give young talents an opportunity to take a peek behind-the-scenes of the DTM from time-to-time. This is how some of our current drivers got started – and today they’re part of the DTM or other series.”
Russell Atkins - Jordan King