King makes his mark with maiden European triumph Warwickshire karting star Jordan King kick-started his stuttering 2009 challenge firmly into gear in the second meeting on his 2009 WSK International Series schedule at Sarno, with a stunning...
King makes his mark with maiden European triumph
Warwickshire karting star Jordan King kick-started his stuttering 2009 challenge firmly into gear in the second meeting on his 2009 WSK International Series schedule at Sarno, with a stunning charge to triumph in the first KF3 final - a performance that he is well aware really caught his rivals' attention.
Having been shunted from pillar to post in his first two European outings of the year and been left with broken fingers from a start-line pile-up at PF International, Jordan rebounded in fine style at the southern Italian circuit - as he overcame missing the fastest part of timed qualifying and suffering a bent stub axle and down-on-power engine in his opening two heat races to stake his claim as a true title contender.
"Sarno is a really good track," the 15-year-old enthused, "very fast and flowing, with some good overtaking opportunities too. It really chucked it down for the first two days, but we were quick in the wet so we were pretty happy with that.
"We weren't really thinking about what we were aiming for; we were just trying to do our best and be as fast as we could. Deep down I'm always aiming to win, though, so we were working towards that.
"For the whole of qualifying we were in the top three, but we weren't out at the right time at the end when the track was at its driest and everybody else went faster. That dropped us down to ninth place in the group, but we knew we were quick, so I was still pretty happy with things.
"With the engine problem, though, I just didn't have the power to get anywhere in the heats on the Saturday. I couldn't close on other drivers; when we were chasing it was alright, but as soon as we got into traffic we couldn't make any progress because we didn't have the power to get past them. I wasn't happy with the results, but equally I knew we weren't a million miles away and we just needed to find something overnight."
With just two borderline top ten finishes to his name for his efforts, there would be, indeed, considerable burning of the midnight oil by Jordan's loyal mechanic Stuart Wright and his JRP team on Saturday night, but with a new engine in the back of his Maranello mount come Sunday morning, the Harbury ace was suddenly in the ballpark once more - and firmly in with a shout.
After storming to a third place and a win in his remaining two heats, the reigning British Mini Max Vice-Champion placed eighth on the grid for the first final out of the 76 competitors present - and from there he would survive a 'fully sideways' moment on the opening lap to seal his breakthrough WSK victory, at last securing the result to match his undoubted pace and potential.
"In the morning warm-up we were still down on power a bit, but overall we were a lot closer to the pace," he recounted. "By the first heat of the day we were pretty much there, and in the next one we were really rocking! I did get a little bit lucky because there was a crash in front of me both times which I managed to avoid, but it was satisfying to be able to fight my way to the front - and we proved we had the speed to stay there too.
"Some of the drivers who were in front of me on the pre-final grid I hadn't really raced against before, so I didn't know what pace they had - but I knew we were quick enough to win. At the start the people further down the grid just kept their foot in and I was fully sideways through the first corner, but I managed to hold it together and I came out of the second corner in second place, with a gap ahead to the leader.
"I closed that gap down and managed to overtake him, and as I was going past his engine seized. That left me with quite a good margin over the others, and I just kept it steady from there really. I had known I was capable of winning, but I hadn't really expected to anymore after the first two heats when we were struggling so much for power. It was an awesome result, really amazing; last year I was winning finals in Super 1, and now I'm winning finals in WSK!"
Confessing to being 'pretty relaxed' before the grand final, Jordan went on to lead the first five laps before unfortunately coming off worst in a fraught seven-way scrap for the top spot after making a tiny error that, he acknowledged, proved costly indeed. By his own admission still getting used to his new surroundings - and there is no substitute for experience at such a high level - it was a valuable lesson to learn.
"I didn't really have any particular pressure on me," he mused, "so I was just going out there to try and do the double. Everything felt under control and I was pretty happy with the whole situation, but then Gerard Barrabeig lunged past me and Danil Kyvat got by too. That left me third, and after that I was probably pushing a bit too hard and hit a kerb, which dropped me back even further. It was just a small mistake, but everyone took advantage.
"In Britain the racing isn't quite so close - there are bigger gaps between the fast drivers and the slower ones, and if you make a mistake you'll lose maybe two or three places. In Europe everybody is quick, and that same mistake can cost you ten positions."
Indeed, the calibre in the bumper WSK KF3 field may be a whole different level to anything Jordan has known before, but on the weekend where it all finally clicked and he truly arrived on the European scene - having already notched up a second and a third place on one-off appearances towards the end of last year - the Repton School pupil showed his rivals that he fully intends to be a force to be reckoned with for the duration of 2009.
"People I hadn't really spoken to before were coming up to me afterwards and saying 'well done'," he reflected. "I was frustrated with what had happened in the grand final, but on the positive side we were bang on the pace and I'm just putting that down to experience. People are definitely starting to notice me and look out for me - everyone knows what I'm capable of now."