Sensational King races to pole position and podium on mega single-seater debut
For somebody who had never entered a car race before in his life, you might reasonably have expected Jordan King to take it fairly steady on his debut in the final round of the 2010 Formula Palmer Audi Championship at Silverstone - but then, given the highly-rated young Warwickshire star's impressive karting pedigree and burning determination to succeed, that was never really very likely to be the case.
Prior to making his car racing bow, Jordan had confessed that his biggest fear for the weekend was running around on his own at the back of the pack - but right from the outset, there was not the remotest danger of that happening. A mere half-a-second or so shy of the benchmark during practice, the Stoneleigh-based speed demon immediately lapped ninth and sixth-fastest in the 16-strong field, right in amongst the three title contenders and appearing every inch the accomplished pro.
And then in qualifying the following day, he was sensational. Never outside the top five and looking confident throughout, on a damp-but-drying track surface - the kind of tricky conditions in which car control, of which Jordan has no shortage, really comes to the fore - the 16-year-old pulled a blistering late lap out of the bag to stun observers by leaping to the top of the timesheets and snatching pole position by just under two tenths of a second, up against rivals who have been driving the car all year. Nobody had an answer to it. It was, quite frankly, remarkable.
"I wasn't feeling particularly nervous because I didn't really have any expectations - I was just going to see how it went," he revealed. "We were never really far off, right from first practice. Everything felt good, but still it was a bit of a surprise to be as quick as I was, to be honest - all a bit surreal.
"Qualifying was the first time I had driven the car in the wet, and it was sliding around a bit. I like those conditions, though, and I've been quick in them in karting, but although I knew my lap was a good one, I didn't know it was good enough for pole. I was quite shocked when I came in afterwards and they told me where I had qualified..."
One of the indisputable highlights of his burgeoning career to-date, Jordan's elation rapidly turned into despair when the driveshaft on his 170mph, 300bhp-plus single-seater snapped on the grid ahead of race one, meaning he never got to take advantage of his qualifying prowess and leaving him 'gutted, because I knew we were quick enough to do well - but I couldn't do anything about it, so we just had to get over it and get on with it'.
A mature response, swift repair work from the FPA mechanics at least enabled the Princethorpe College Student to rejoin the action in the closing stages, and in an eye-catchingly composed display, he went on to set the third-quickest lap time, thereby not only ably demonstrating his raw speed but also ensuring himself of the same spot on the grid for race two, what would represent his first-ever standing-start.
"I didn't get away too well," he admitted. "You need to get your reaction time ready for the lights going out, and I didn't quite get it nailed. I dropped down to seventh, and then as I tried to fight back I went for a move on a driver ahead but he didn't give me a lot of room. It ended up in contact and I had to retire, which was disappointing."
Sunday, however, was another day, and yielded another superb performance in qualifying to line up second - a scant three hundredths of a second shy of pole, and proving that he had the single-lap pace to feature right up at the sharp end come rain or shine - though Jordan betrayed his fiercely- competitive spirit by conceding that he 'would have preferred pole'. And that set the scene for a magnificent drive in race three.
"I got the start nailed this time, and although I didn't get the next gearshift quite right after that, I was able to hold onto second so it was no major issue," he mused. "The leader initially pulled away, but I then pegged him back to around a two-second gap, and whilst the driver behind began to catch me slightly mid-race, he was never really within a second- and-a-half or so, and I was always comfortable I could open up a gap over him again. It was good to get a decent result after the first day, and I was really pleased to be up on the podium."
Another polished performance that belied his age - as the youngest driver in the field - and comparative lack of experience, the last race would unfortunately not end the way he had hoped, with wheelspin away from the line dropping Jordan four spots to seventh, and he was embroiled in a three- way tussle to recover his starting position of third when he found himself tagged from behind, leaving him with a damaged rear wing. Not the manner in which he had wanted the weekend to finish, by any stretch, but still, what a weekend!
"I would have liked to have been on the podium again - I knew I was capable of it, because I was the quickest on the track at the time - but I was still able to take a trophy home from the previous race," he concluded of three days over the course of which he had truly turned heads.
"We learned a lot about the starts and the racing in general, and I was able to adapt to the speed differential between karts and cars, even if it was all a bit crazy when it came to wheel-to-wheel stuff, probably because it was the last round of the season. Overall, though, it was definitely a really positive weekend."