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King Russia15aBritish GP2 racer Jordan King endured a tough ninth round of the series at the Sochi circuit in Russia, but came away pleased with his speed in the car and with the progress made within his Racing Engineering squad.

The 21-year-old GP2 rookie, who had never raced at Sochi, set strong pace immediately, despite having to familiarise himself with the track.

“It’s a technical circuit, but I got to grips with it pretty quickly,” King says. “And I think I proved that by going third quickest in the opening session of qualifying on my first set of tyres. The wet conditions were a good leveller, too, so that helped.”

A brake problem on the Dallara-Renault machine that couldn’t be fixed in time meant that as circuit conditions improved and his rivals got up to speed, King fell down the order that would decide the starting grid for the first of the weekend’s two races, the 28-lap feature race on Saturday afternoon.

“That was a shame,” King admits. “There was nothing we could do in the time available so I had to make do with 19th on the grid and 1.7 seconds in arrears. The problem just got worse on the second set of tyres.”

Things didn’t improve for race one. Contact with Filipino racer Marlon Stockinger at Turn 2 on the opening lap damaged King’s car and resulted in him ploughing straight on and into the wall at Turn 3. The Warwickshire driver emerged from the car winded and bruised and was taken to hospital for precautionary checks, later returning to the circuit.

“I was beaten up a bit – a few cuts and bruises and a bit of a winding,” says King. “No different from a typical rugby match!”

Red-flagged while the barriers were repaired, the race was restarted but reduced to 15 laps due to fading light. King’s Racing Engineering team-mate Alexander Rossi took victory, giving the team a late boost.

After an epic all-night rebuild job by his team – “They did a fantastic job and I can’t thank them enough” – King was able to take part in Sunday morning’s 21-lap sprint race, having made use of a spare chassis from GP2 organisers.

“There had been a lot of work to do,” he says. “The chassis was damaged, both front corners were wrecked, as was the nose box, front wing and right sidepod.

“I was determined to make as much progress as possible from my pitlane start as a thank-you to the team. The car felt great, although I was feeling a bit sore and had had very little race mileage from the day before.”

King settled down and soon began passing rival cars. To finish 15th from the pitlane was a commendable effort and one that offered some salvation.

“It was great to get back in the saddle after falling off,” King reckons, “and the result in race two represented a bit of a rescue job. Onwards and upwards!”

The penultimate round of the GP2 series takes place at the Sakhir circuit in Bahrain on 20-21 November.

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