King’s Le Mans debut comes to early end due to gearbox failure

The 24 Hours of Le Mans ended in disappointment for Jordan King and the #37 Jackie Chan DC Racing x Jota team after a gearbox failure midway through the final round of the 2018/19 FIA World Endurance Championship.

Monday, 17th June 2019, 5:57 pm
Jordan King, centre, behind the scenes with his Jackie Chan DC Racing x Jota team-mates. Picture: Antonin Vincent / DPPI

Having never completed a lap at the famous 24 Hours of Le Mans La Sarthe circuit before the test days at the start of June, King used the single four-hour practice session to become accustomed to the track and layout.

The Harbury driver posted the 13th fastest time of the session in the LMP2 class and was only just over a tenth of a second off team-mate and seasoned sports car racer Ricky Taylor.

In the first qualifying session, King showcased his impressive pace by producing a time quicker than team-mate and Le Mans LMP2 winner David Heinemeier-Hanson.

Race action.

This pattern continued in the second session and in the final qualifying outing the trio remained consistently quick.

The #37 Jackie Chan DC Racing x Jota set an overall fastest time 3:28.049s which secured 12th in the LMP2 class and the trio got off to a good start with King’s team-mate Ricky Taylor at the helm for the first stint.

Thirty minutes into the race and Taylor had progressed up the order and was lapping in seventh position.

King notched up a further 30 laps, edging the team up one position and by the 90-lap mark, the team was up to fifth in class and in the hunt for a podium as the rain started to come down.

King’s next period in the car came around the seven-and-a-half-hour-mark with the car running in fifth.

A drive-through penalty for overtaking the safety car marred the 25-year-old’s second stint but he exited the car with the team holding on to fifth place. Little did he know it would be his last stint in the car.

At 4:51am local time, the car entered the garage with what was evidently a severe issue.

While the team did all they could, it was, unfortunately, the end of the #37 team’s race due to the gearbox casing being damaged as regulations do not allow it to be replaced during the race.

“I am absolutely heartbroken,” said King. “We had been in such a strong position through the majority of the race. I was feeling confident and it was going well. We had even been in contention for a podium which would’ve been incredible.

“I couldn’t believe it when the car came back into the pits with a problem. It’s hard to explain exactly how you feel, as you never want to be in that situation. I want to say thank you to my team-mates and the team for all of their efforts over the event.

“Despite the immense disappointment, it’s important to take away the positives from the week. It has been such a fantastic experience and Le Mans truly is a special place.

“I’ve really tested myself as a driver here and I’m proud of my individual performance and it’s been fantastic to compete in the three races I have done with the team.”