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By Jamie Arrowsmith Monday 18 February 2013 Updated: 20/02 17:29
THE racing gods refused to smile upon Jordan King in the grand finale of the 2012/13 MRF Challenge around the Madras Motorsports Circuit, but the talented young Warwickshire ace could nonetheless claim a moral victory as he went down fighting in Chennai.
The highly-rated Stoneleigh-based speed demon travelled to India fired-up to successfully defend his 2011 MRF Challenge crown, and sitting five points clear of his closest pursuer in what had developed into a three-way tussle for glory.
Amongst the 17-strong field, King placed his Dallara-designed, Renault-powered single-seater fourth on the grid for Saturday’s opening encounter, comfortably ahead of chief title rival Conor Daly - a GP3 Series and Indy Lights race-winner and son of former F1 driver Derek Daly – who languished outside of the top ten.
With overtaking at a distinct premium, the reigning Formula Renault Northern European Cup vice-champion took the chequered flag in the same position.
Benefitting from a couple of incidents further up the order, though, Daly wound up sixth – and in so doing, secured pole position for race two later in the day whilst the championship leader conversely lined up just third on the top six reverse grid, ironically finding himself penalised for his pace.
With both competitors finishing where they had started, the American assumed the advantage in the points standings heading into Sunday.
King once again struck the first blow by qualifying a superb second, six spots clear of Daly.
Twice snatching the initiative off the line only to twice see the first race red-flagged for collisions, the 18-year-old McLaren Autosport Award finalist maturely kept his composure, and when the action belatedly got underway for real, he sprinted away to a seamless triumph – his fourth from eight outings over the course of a commendable campaign.
Frustratingly, however, the elimination of several contenders in the various start-line mêlées meant Daly inherited three places without even turning a wheel, and fifth position earned him a front row starting slot for the decider, whilst King was down in sixth and facing an uphill struggle.
He slid wide at the first corner which left him at the rear of the field by quite a margin.
King weaved his way through the field to fifth but the driver directly in front broke down and he ran into the back of him. Although there was no real damage to the car, the delay dropped him back to eighth.
Regaining one place by the time the flag fell, King’s gutsy and valiant effort was not quite enough, as he found himself pipped to the laurels by a scant five points.
Given that he sacrificed as many as 52 points by missing two races in order to attend the prestigious Autosport Awards ceremony in December, King can justifiably be proud of what he has achieved.
King said: “I can’t be too downcast because if I had completed the full season, I’d like to think I would have had the title wrapped up before the last race.
"I did feel the reverse grid format was a little unfair, as it punishes you for being fast in qualifying and race one, but Conor drove well all season, so congratulations to him on his success.
“Aside from the small mistake in Sunday’s second race in Chennai, I’m very happy with my own performance after consistently proving myself to be the quickest driver in the field.
"It was naturally disappointing not to be able to retain my title, but I take a lot of encouragement from the experience and I think I can come away from it with my head held high.”
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