Tom Oliphant has started his second season in the Porsche Carrera Cup GB with a hard-fought pair of fourth place finishes during the opening two rounds of the season around the Brands Hatch Indy circuit this past weekend (01/02 April).
Returning to the scene of his championship debut twelve months ago, Oliphant bounced back from a difficult qualifying session to make forwards progress in both races in his Philips Automotive Lighting Porsche and earn a strong points haul to start the campaign.
The Leamington Spa racer headed into the season opener confident of challenging for top three finishes, but knew his chances of doing so relied on a strong qualifying performance on a circuit that's renowned to be difficult to overtake around in the Porsches.
Unfortunately for Oliphant though, traffic would prove to be his downfall in Saturday’s session as 22 identical 911 GT3 Cup cars lapped the short 1.2 mile circuit, with a couple of potential personal best lap times coming to nothing as he found himself blocked in the second sector.
The 26 year old would therefore have to settle for fifth on the grid for both of Sunday’s races, but he put that behind him and made immediate progress from the rolling start to the opening encounter, slipping down the inside at Paddock Hill Bend to take fourth.
Following an early safety car, Oliphant found himself struggling for tyre grip in his Redline Racing machine. That meant he wasn't able to prevent himself from slipping back to fifth, however an off-track moment for the same driver later in the race ensured he was back in fourth at the finish.
The second race proved to be a similar story for the Mulgari Automotive and Horizon Specialities-backed driver, with a first lap move securing him fourth position before more issues with grip left him unable to take the fight to the top three in front of the live ITV4 television cameras.
Oliphant would slip back to fifth before the finish, but on this occasion the move was made when he had backed off for yellow flags, with the stewards reversing the positions post-race to complete his fourth place double and place him joint third in the early championship standings.
The weekend’s results means Oliphant has now impressively posted seventeen top six finishes in his eighteen Carrera Cup GB races to date, though the 2015 Michelin Ginetta GT4 Supercup champion has loftier ambitions for the next rounds at Donington Park on Easter weekend (15/16 April).
Tom Oliphant: “Everything looked really promising leading up to qualifying, but we were a bit unlucky in that session and missed out on third or fourth on the grid, which was the sort of pace we were showing on our new tyres runs during testing.
“Unfortunately we lacked grip in both races. The second race was better, but the car still didn’t turn the tyres on quickly enough and we struggled to produce the pace we needed to keep up with the front pack. We raced well though and made the best of the situation.
“To come away from this weekend with a pair of fourth place finishes is a good points haul to start the season, especially at what is probably my worst circuit on the calendar, so now we move onto circuits that favour me more and I’ll be pushing for the victories.”
Image from Dan Bathie/Porsche.