King proves speed and gains experience as Winter Series wraps up
Jordan King declared his Winter Series baptism in Formula Renault UK a success following the conclusion of proceedings at Pembrey in South Wales, for despite the kind of results his potential clearly deserved proving frustratingly elusive, he was nonetheless able to demonstrate his raw pace and pick up the experience that he believes will turn him into a regular race-winner in Britain's premier junior single-seater formula in 2011.
After claiming a top ten finish on his debut in the fiercely-contested championship at Snetterton - despite having to compete battered and bruised in the wake of a testing shunt - Jordan headed to Pembrey vowing to improve upon that. In producing his finest performance in car racing to-date, he would be every bit as good as his word.
"Pembrey is a challenging and enjoyable circuit to drive and a good circuit to test at," explained the highly-rated young Warwickshire star, "but racing-wise it isn't great, because it's really difficult to overtake. I felt pretty confident going into the weekend, though, because we had been quick in testing. We were actually the quickest of anyone in one of the wet sessions on Friday - that was definitely a boost, because it proved to everyone that even at such an early stage, I can be up at the front - but to be honest, I was happy whatever the weather."
On a damp-but-drying track surface in qualifying on Saturday, however, Jordan - and all of his Manor Competition team-mates, for that matter - unfortunately missed the best of the conditions and as such wound up significantly further down the timing screens than he had anticipated, with the Stoneleigh-based speed demon left to start race one from a wholly unrepresentative 16th position.
Impressively undeterred, he would be the architect of a searing drive up through the field that culminated in him overtaking his team-mate Josh Hill - son of 1996 F1 World Champion Damon - to snatch a superb sixth place on the penultimate lap.
"The whole team struggled in qualifying," Jordan conceded. "We didn't get the timing right in terms of when the track was at its best; in that kind of situation, it's all about being out at the right time - and if you aren't, you'll be a long way down the order...
"Our speed was really good in the race, but the problem is that once you get close to the car in front, you can't go any quicker than them because of all the aerodynamic grip - so to pass ten drivers in 20 laps I thought was pretty good! It was good fun coming through, and just a shame there aren't a few more overtaking opportunities around Pembrey, because if there had been I could definitely have finished inside the top five."
Admitting that his form had been 'encouraging and frustrating at the same time' - since had he started further up the grid, he might well have been able to do battle for the podium - the fact that the 16-year-old took the chequered flag as the leading Manor driver having begun behind all three of his team-mates spoke volumes. Sadly, race two would not last anything like as long.
"I made really good starts the whole weekend, and this time I got up to ninth," he recounted. "Then, going into lap three, several drivers in front of me all stacked up together on the inside on the entry to the first hairpin, so I went out wide to try to get the cut-back on them on the exit, but there was an incident ahead and two cars came to a complete stop.
"I came out of the hairpin travelling a lot quicker, and when someone moved over a little bit to avoid the accident, my front wing tagged his rear wheel, went underneath my car and punctured one of my tyres. That was a shame, because we could definitely have had another top six finish."
That much seems indisputable, but after qualifying a best-yet of 11th the following day - a mere six tenths of a second adrift of the benchmark - Sunday's races would swiftly degenerate into disaster. Finding himself sent bouncing over the kerb by a rival in the first of them knocked his front wing askew, causing the Princethorpe College Student and Hugo Boss brand ambassador to lose a lot of aerodynamic grip and consequently speed.
To rub salt into the wounds, another driver then got one of his front wheels tangled with one of Jordan's rear wheels and spun him round, whilst a similarly over-ambitious manoeuvre by a different adversary did for his chances in the weekend's final encounter - but although the ultimate outcome was evidently not what he had been hoping for, his pace and potential were palpable.
"The basic speed is there," he concluded, "and progress has been made in other areas, too, so that's all good - I'm just disappointed we didn't manage to get any decent results, as such. Doing the Winter Series paid off in terms of building my experience, though, and more testing will help us to find the last couple of tenths that we need - and then hopefully, if we can get qualifying sorted in time for the main season next year, we'll be able to start winning some races..."