Tom Oliphant found himself in the wars and out of luck at Snetterton this past weekend (October 24/25) in what proved to be a Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship meeting to forget.
Heading into the penultimate event of the season having hoped to have closed the gap to the top five in the points, the West Surrey Racing driver found himself on the receiving of unnecessary contact in each race, scuppering his chances of a top result.
The Team BMW racer kicked off his weekend at the Norfolk venue with a one-off qualifying format, which saw drivers with a marginally reduced 25 minutes to record a lap time before the top ten drivers progressed into a ten-minute pole position battle.
Leaving it late to secure a spot in the ‘Top Ten Showdown’, the 30-year-old went on to power his BMW 330i M Sport to the seventh fastest time.
Starting from the fourth row of the grid, the Sports Alive-backed driver made a great start but contact with Aiden Moffat upon entry into the first corner sent the rear-wheel-drive ace into a spin and tumbling to the back of the pack.
Rejoining the track, Oliphant set about making up the ground he had lost by producing a string of eye-catching overtakes as he battled his way up the order, taking the chequered flag in 14th. Had it not been for additional contact during his recovery it could have been even higher.
Free of success ballast, Oliphant found himself in the thick of the action once again in the second encounter as he continued to fightback from his race one travails. Suffering more contact as he attempted to move forward, he crossed the lined in 11th.
Narrowly missing out on the reverse grid draw for pole position, the British Racing Drivers Club member sadly found himself suffering more unnecessary contact during a fraught final contest.
Running on the fringe of the top ten for a majority of the 12-lap bout, Oliphant was pushed as far back as 15th at one point but showcased his gritty determination by fighting back to cross the line in 12th.
At the end of the eighth meeting of the season, Oliphant remains sixth in the BTCC Drivers’ Championship but has subsequently dropped out of contention for the overall title.
Tom Oliphant: “It's been a weekend to forget, simple as that. Some of the driving standards out there were just despicable and I just found myself in the wrong place at the wrong time in every race, getting hit.
"We left it late to get into the top ten showdown in qualifying but I think seventh was a good effort. Contact at the first corner of race one dictated the rest of the day.
"I think I drove well and the pace we had in the car was really strong. It was a shame we couldn't show how strong we were though and we've ultimately come away with three results outside the top ten.
"We're out of title contention now but fifth place in the points is a very real possibility. Achieving that and helping BMW win the Teams' and Manufacturers' Championship's is the aim going into the season finale at Brands Hatch."
The Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship will cap off its condensed 2020 campaign with three races around the Indy layout of Brands Hatch on November 14/15.