Tom Oliphant narrowly missed out on a first podium finish of the 2017 Porsche Carrera Cup GB season as he secured a pair of top five finishes during a difficult visit to Oulton Park this past weekend (20/21 May).
Following a superb performance in the Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup in Barcelona one week prior, Oliphant would return to familiar surroundings for the third meeting of the CCGB season, with the Oulton circuit being a stone’s throw from his family home in Tarporley.
Oliphant would kick off the meeting in positive fashion as he showed promising pace in his Philips automotive lighting Porsche during Friday’s two free practice sessions, however the weather conditions would change dramatically for qualifying the next day.
Torrential rainfall would greet the field at the start of the session, with Oliphant negotiating the treacherous conditions well to run seventh early on before a red flag stoppage – a break in action that allowed the conditions to improve slightly.
Times would improve throughout the final fifteen minutes of the session therefore, with the Leamington Spa racer posting a best effort of 1m 31.048s in his Redline Racing Porsche to position himself fifth on the grid for both races.
The opening encounter on Saturday afternoon would start in dramatic fashion, with Oliphant finding himself lucky to emerge relatively unscathed from a massive first corner incident, though some contact induced damage would eventually derail his podium challenge in the restarted encounter.
A fantastic start would see Oliphant move up to third position through the opening turn and build a quick gap of three seconds to his closest pursuer, however with knocked out tracking causing him problems under steering and braking, he was powerless to stop that gap decreasing.
Some brilliant defensive driving saw him rebuff his rivals challenge until the final lap, when he would unfortunately slip back to fourth position in heart-breaking fashion to narrowly miss out on a deserved second podium finish in the Carrera Cup GB.
The final race of the weekend would take place in front of a massive trackside crowd and the live ITV4 television cameras on Sunday afternoon, however it would prove to be a relatively subdued affair for Oliphant in his Mulgari Automotive and Horizon Specialities-backed Porsche.
Oliphant would hold fourth position for the majority of the race until he slipped back to fifth into Cascades on lap eleven, with his efforts to then try and regain the position being halted as an incident brought the race to an early red flag conclusion.
The weekend’s two top five finishes have cemented Oliphant’s fourth position in the championship standings as he prepares for the biggest event of the season, with Round Seven seeing the series head to France to race in support of the legendary Le Mans 24 Hours.
Tom Oliphant: “It’s been a pretty average weekend generally. The car felt really good in practice, but for some reason I just didn’t have the ultimate pace throughout and therefore I’m pleased to come away with some solid points from what was a difficult weekend mentally.
“I was involved in an accident that was proven not to be my fault in the first race, but damage from that meant that although I ran third, I was powerless to hold onto the position once they got onto my tail and had to settle for fourth.
“I got a decent start in race two and pushed on to keep with the top three, but some slow cars limping round got in my way and broke the tow to them. That put me under pressure from behind and I ended up losing the position to a really good overtaking move.
“I’ve never really gone too quickly around here, but I really feel that Le Mans is going to be a circuit that’s going to suit me much better in this car. It’s going to be an amazing weekend to race in support of the 24 Hours, and I’m determined to maximise that opportunity.”
Image from Dan Bathie/Porsche.