Tom Oliphant played the long game at Thruxton this past weekend (September 19/20) in the Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship and was rewarded with a trio of top eight finishes, banking him a solid haul of points. Having had the opportunity to rest and reflect on a busy start to the 2020 season - with four events taking place in five weeks - the Team BMW ace got back behind the wheel to tackle the fastest circuit in the UK with the aim of building on his impressive run of results to-date. Despite the high-speed Hampshire venue traditionally being better-suited to front-wheel-drive cars, the BMW 330i M Sport driver showed encouraging pace across Saturday’s two free practice sessions and headed into qualifying with a quiet confidence. In what proved to be an ultra-competitive session, the 30-year-old extracted the maximum from his rear-wheel-drive machine to set the 12th best time, despite being ladened with 42kgs of success ballast, setting him up for a strong race day. Launching off the sixth row of the grid in the opening encounter, Oliphant wasted no time in moving forward as he muscled his way into the top ten during the opening stages and then settled into a groove. Moving up two more spots to eighth in the remaining laps, the Sports Alive-backed driver bagged a handy haul of points to aid his lofty championship position. Carrying less weight in race two, Oliphant was once again on the move as he kept his nose clean and progressed to sixth come the chequered flag. Starting third on the grid virtue of the reverse grid draw, the former Ginetta GT4 Supercup champion picked up another sixth place finish to cap off a solid day at the office. As the lights went out, Oliphant found his path to split the front row cut off as the field streamed through Allard and as he fought for track position around the opening sequence of corners, he was shuffled back to fourth. Dropping back to sixth a handful of laps later, Oliphant would hold station for the remainder of the race to continue his record of being one of only two drivers on the grid to finish in the points in every race so far this season. Following the fifth of nine events this season, Oliphant sits sixth in the BTCC Drivers’ Championship heading into the next rounds at Silverstone this coming weekend (September 26/27). Tom Oliphant: “Considering that we qualified outside the top ten on Saturday we can't be too disappointed with three top eight finishes and a solid haul of points, especially as the characteristics of the circuit didn't suit our car as much as other tracks we visit. "After qualifying I had it in my head that we needed to play the long game on Sunday. Moving forward in races one and two was important as it put me into the hat for the reverse grid draw, and that ultimately was kind as it placed me in third. "I had a good launch but in the second phase I was swallowed up by the front-wheel-drive cars. Had that not happened I think we would have had the pace to challenge for a podium. Overall we have made the best of the weekend and we'll focus on coming back stronger at Silverstone."
Image from Jakob Ebrey Photography.