By Jamie Arrowsmith 30/04 Updated: 02/05 12:29
JORDAN KING battled against persistent tyre-warming woes in his first competitive outing of 2012 to come away with a podium finish in the Formula Renault Northern European Cup curtain-raiser at Hockenheim.
King mastered the wet-but-drying track surface during qualifying to seal a superb third spot on the 39-strong starting grid for race one, a position he held in the opening encounter.
The highly rated Stoneleigh-based King said: “We struggled all weekend to get the tyres up to temperature sufficiently quickly, so I wasn’t able to pressurise the top two for the first few laps.
“After the car came on, I moved up into second but then it began to rain and the race was stopped because quite a few drivers crashed.
“We had the same scenario again with the tyres at the re-start, which meant I was unable to make any impression on the leader.
"I was happy to get a podium finish and good points to start the season, but just a little disappointed we weren’t able to push as early as we needed to.”
With the combination of slick tyres and a wet track surface invariably highlighting which drivers possess the best car control, King excelled, revelling in the unique challenge and lapping less than a tenth of a second adrift of the outright benchmark.
Sadly, from seventh on the grid in race two, his tyre troubles would return to haunt him.
“I made up two positions at the start into fifth, but then as I went for a move on the driver in fourth, it looked like he was going to turn in on me, so I was a little bit hesitant and that caused me to run wide, costing me a couple of places.
“I got one of them back when somebody ahead spun, before the safety car came out because there were a number of people off in the barriers.
“At the re-start, we had the same problem again with the tyres and although I was gaining on the guys in front by the end, it was too late. Fifth place represented more good points, but we had the pace for another podium.”
A succession of ultra-competitive lap times ensured King began the final race from fifth place.
“I held position initially and then passed two drivers in one corner as they were fighting,” related the Princethorpe College student.
“Unfortunately it began raining quite heavily and I spun 100 metres before the safety car appeared.
“I had backed right off because of the change in conditions, but I must have just ever-so-slightly touched the kerb and it turned me round.
"Although I recovered it pretty quickly, I still lost three positions and when the racing resumed, it was difficult to overtake because there was only one dry line.
"I regained one place on the last lap when the driver in front of me made a mistake, but it could so easily have been another podium.”
Lapping second-quickest – impressively, more than six tenths faster than the winner – the end result might not have been what King had been hoping for, but it has left him fourth in the title standings heading next to legendary Belgian Grand Prix circuit Spa-Francorchamps, and well in the hunt.
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