Rising star Tom Oliphant has secured one of the most coveted seats on the British Touring Car Championship grid for 2019 after signing with reigning champions West Surrey Racing for his second season in the biggest race series in the UK.
Following a fantastic debut campaign in the championship this year, the Cheshire born driver is over the moon to have been given the opportunity to race with the most successful team in recent BTCC history, having won ten overall titles in the past ten seasons.
Taking both the Teams’ and Manufacturers’ titles in each of the last three seasons, the Sunbury-On-Thames based squad completed a clean sweep of championship glory in 2018 as Colin Turkington secured his third Drivers’ crown.
Oliphant entered the BTCC with four years’ experience on its support package, being crowned the 2015 champion in the Michelin Ginetta GT4 Supercup before taking four podium finishes across two campaigns in the Porsche Carrera Cup GB.
The 28 year old from Leamington Spa made a great impression during his debut BTCC campaign in 2018, qualifying in the top ten on five occasions, securing twelve points scoring finishes and recording his first fastest lap in the championship during the final race of the year.
Oliphant will once again be eligible to compete in the Jack Sears Trophy in 2019, which is a class open to all drivers who start the season without an overall podium in the series, as well as aiding West Surrey Racing in their quest for Teams’ and Manufacturers’ glory.
Tom Oliphant: “It’s truly a dream come true to become a West Surrey Racing driver in the British Touring Car Championship in 2019. Ever since I started looking at the BTCC as an option in my career, I knew that WSR and BMW were the package I wanted to be part of.
“WSR are for me the best team on the BTCC grid. With ten overall titles in the past ten seasons and with over 600 races under their belt, it was clear to me that they have the experience and expertise I need to help me progress into a front-runner in this championship.
“I raced front-wheel drive machinery in my first year in the BTCC and I’ve won titles in rear-wheel drive cars, so I’m comfortable in both and feel I can build on everything I learnt in my debut BTCC season and really push for the front of the grid in 2019.
“A lot of drivers have enjoyed success with WSR during their time in the BTCC and I don’t plan to be an exception. I have clear targets for 2019; I want to take overall wins and podium results, finish in the top ten in the points and compete for the Jack Sears Trophy.
“This is a hugely exciting opportunity and we are currently finalising deals with partners for the 2019 season and look forward to announcing them in the New Year, while we’re always looking to get new companies on-board as we continue our journey in the highest-profile series in the UK.”
Dick Bennetts, Team Principal: “We’re very pleased to be able to announce Tom as the first member of our 2019 line-up. We have a long history of working with young drivers and turning them into front-runners and champions, and we’re sure Tom has all the right attributes to achieve his potential with us.
“We were impressed with him in the BTCC support categories and the speed he showed in his rookie season in 2018 has convinced us that he’ll be the ideal driver to help us push on and achieve our aim of even more success in 2019.”
The rebranded Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship is the most popular series in the UK, with over 380,000 fans attending the ten race meetings across the last campaign, while the championship’s television coverage on ITV reached a total UK audience of over 19 million in 2018.
Images from Jakob Ebrey Photography.