- Chris Ashby
Tom Oliphant Makes Home Advantage Count To Scoop Oulton Park Podium
Tom Oliphant enjoyed another strong performance in the Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship this past weekend (August 22/23), making home advantage count around Oulton Park to score an impressive podium finish in race three. Entering the third event of the season riding a wave of momentum after scoring a sensational maiden BTCC win at Brands Hatch two weeks’ prior, the Cheshire-born Team BMW ace battled the elements to add to his ever-growing trophy collection. Carrying 48kgs of success ballast on-board his BMW 330i M Sport into the weekend virtue of his lofty position in the overall standings, the Sports Alive-backed racer produced a competitive showing in qualifying to secure eighth on the grid for the opening encounter. Starting on the fourth row for race one, the West Surrey Racing driver progressed well in treacherous conditions to settle into third place on the opening lap. Unfortunately, the unrelenting heavy rainfall would put pay to his chances of a top result as the wrong call on tyres cost him dearly as he slowly slipped down the order to finish 12th. Oliphant, who celebrated his 30th birthday on the Friday prior to the event, was determined to bounce back strongly in race two and did just that as he charged up the order to sixth. In wet conditions, the British Racing Drivers Club member started strongly again and settled into a rhythm running towards the back of the top ten. Managing his tyre life well through the race paid dividends as Oliphant was able to carve his way forward with a string of eye-catching overtakes to sixth place. Lining up fifth virtue of the reverse grid draw, the former Ginetta GT4 Supercup champion moved up into second by the end of the opening lap, hot on the heels of race leader Adam Morgan. Applying plenty of pressure to the Mercedes driver in the laps that followed, Oliphant would go on to help the team by allowing team-mate Colin Turkington past, ensuring both of them an equal opportunity to battle for the lead. Unfortunately, a red flag in the latter stages scuppered both drivers chances of prevailing, classifying Oliphant in third to clinch his third rostrum finish of the season. Leaving Oulton Park, Oliphant remains firmly in the hunt for biggest prize in UK motorsport, sitting fourth in the BTCC Drivers’ Championship. Tom Oliphant: “It was a pretty tough race day so to come away with a podium in the reverse grid encounter was great - it was just what we needed and keeps us in the mix towards the top of the standings. "Race one was tough, we made a good start but the heavy rain along with the used wet tyres transpired against us. Race two was much better though as we had great pace and the team gave me a great car, allowing me to pull off a couple of late moves. "I gave it everything I had to get past Adam in race three and ultimately played the team game to let Colin through to see if he could find a way past. We had agreed to swap back positions but the red flag prevented that from happening. To come away with third is still fantastic though and momentum is on our side heading to Knockhill." The Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship now travels north of the border to Scotland for Rounds 10, 11 and 12 at Knockhill on August 29/30.
Image from Jakob Ebrey Photography.