King eyes surprise BTCC switch after Ford test

GP2 race winner and ex-IndyCar racer Jordan King is eyeing a surprise move to the British Touring Car Championship.

Jordan King, Motorbase Performance Ford Focus

The 27-year-old, who made two Formula 1 FP1 appearances with Manor in 2016, tested a Motorbase Performance Ford Focus at Snetterton last week.

King is one driver in the frame for the team, which is understood to potentially be parting ways with Mark Blundell’s MB Motorsport operation, under which name it operated two cars for Jake Hill and Ollie Jackson this season.

The test was organised by driver manager Will Fewkes; although King is not one of his clients, they have a friendship dating back several years.

“I was given an opportunity to test it so I wasn’t going to say no,” King told Autosport.

“In truth I’m looking at anything for next year – I’m not saying I am looking at it [BTCC], I’m not saying I’m not looking at it.

“It’s a cool championship, good racing, and if I can make it a pure professional drive then I’ll look into it, but it very much comes down to that.”

Jordan King, Motorbase Performance Ford Focus

Jordan King, Motorbase Performance Ford Focus

Photo by: JEP / Motorsport Images

King, who has not raced since he contested the December 2019 Bahrain round of the World Endurance Championship in an LMP1 Ginetta, enjoyed the experience of the Focus.

“It was one of those Snetterton days where the rain never lifted – it was just misty and wet in the air,” he said.

“The circuit never dried up, there was always a bit of spray, and in the afternoon when the temperature dropped it really plummeted in grip.

“But I genuinely really enjoyed myself – I was pleasantly surprised.

“Coming from my background, everybody in the team was downplaying it because it does take a lot of getting used to.

“It was my first time ever driving a front-wheel-drive car, and my first time with a stickshift in eight years or something, so it was a bit of a learning curve to start with, but we were reasonably quick and made some good progress.”

Motorbase boss Pete Osborne made it clear that King is one of the drivers on his target list for 2022.

“He’s just such a professional at everything he does,” Osborne told Autosport.

“To be able to bring someone like that to the BTCC would be an absolute dream for us – he not only would help the team, but the way he handles himself, he’s a pure professional.

“Our guys thoroughly enjoyed working with him, and I would love to entice Jordan to get a full-time BTCC drive.”

Regarding King’s wish to be a professional, Osborne said: “We’re a different team to a lot on the grid – it’s my hobby and what I enjoy.

“It’s not a live-or-die situation as a profit stream, but the idea is for it to be financially stable.”

But he did add: “We’ve got a massive partner joining us for next year – I’ve never been so excited.”

Jordan King, Motorbase Performance Ford Focus

Jordan King, Motorbase Performance Ford Focus

Photo by: JEP / Motorsport Images

Osborne’s son Sam is likely to stay on in the line-up for 2022, while Jackson is also strongly tipped to remain and Tom Chilton has been linked with a return to the squad after confirming that he will depart the Ciceley Motorsport BMW team.

With Andy Neate retiring and Hill’s future the subject of speculation, that leaves one more place available.

Hill, fifth in the 2021 BTCC standings, has this month been taken onto Blundell’s MB Partners management stable, and could not comment on rumours linking him with other leading teams in the series.

“Lots of things are happening – I’ve always wanted to be in the best car I possibly can,” said Hill.

“I really did enjoy this year with Motorbase a lot, and it’s set me up hopefully for another good year in 2022.”

Regarding his new management from Blundell, he added: “It’s been the most up-and-down journey I could ever imagine with my dad [ex-racer Simon Hill], and little did we think we could achieve five seasons of BTCC.

“It’s time really to make the next step commercially, and I can’t do this forever without earning a wage out of it. Being under the management of Mark and his team, it becomes a bit more stable.”

Motorbase also tested four drivers on behalf of BTCC tyre supplier Goodyear as a reward for their successes in lower-level tin-top series.

Lewis Kent and Dan Zelos, respectively the TCR UK and Mini Challenge champions, 2020 Focus Cup title winner Andy Godfrey and 2021 Fiesta Championship runner-up Luke Pinder (with champion Rob Smith unable to attend) all had a turn at the wheel of a Focus.

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