Tom Oliphant narrowly missed out on a top ten finish as he raced in front of over 100,000 fans in support of the Formula 1 British Grand Prix during his second Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup outing of the season at Silverstone this past weekend (15/16 July).
Twelve months on from his Supercup debut during the same event, Oliphant returned to the Supercup grid eager to build on a hugely promising outing at the Circuit de Catalunya earlier this year, when he superbly secured a pair of top ten finishes.
The Leamington Spa racer would tackle the Silverstone meeting in a different second-generation Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car to the one he used in Barcelona, with Friday’s practice session giving him the opportunity to get acquainted with his new machinery before qualifying.
After a strong induction saw Oliphant finish practice twelfth fastest overall, the Philips automotive lighting supported driver would impressively go on to out-qualify a number of the championship’s regular, more experienced drivers on Saturday morning.
The 26 year old produced a best effort of 2m 05.503s in his distinctive white, grey and green liveried Lechner Racing Porsche to place himself fourteenth on the grid, with an incredibly close session seeing just over two tenths of a second separating him from the top six.
A drop in track temperature for the race on Sunday morning presented a new challenge for Oliphant as he prepared to race in front of a mammoth home crowd and a large television audience, with live coverage of the race on both Eurosport and Sky Sports F1.
The race wouldn’t begin in perfect fashion for Oliphant as he got boxed in at the start in his Horizon Specialities supported machine and lost some ground, but a brilliant fightback saw him avoid some opening lap incidents in the chaotic midfield to emerge in twelfth position.
With some immediate gaps having formed ahead of him, Oliphant got his head down and settled into a rhythm of competitive lap times as he closed onto the tail of Daniele Di Amato, before dispatching him at mid-distance with an intelligent move through Club Corner.
From there, Oliphant’s focus turned to catching onto the tail of his regular Porsche Carrera Cup GB team-mate Charlie Eastwood at the tail of the top ten, with some impressive pace seeing him close right onto his rear bumper heading onto the final tour.
Ultimately, he wouldn’t be presented with a chance to overtake though and would take the chequered flag in eleventh position, a result that means he has brilliantly finished in the top twelve in each of his four career races in the Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup to date.
With his Supercup commitments completed for the year, Oliphant’s focus is now solely on the second half of his Porsche Carrera Cup GB campaign, which kicks off at the end of the month (29/30 July) with a visit to Snetterton in Norfolk.
Tom Oliphant: “It’s been a great weekend. The new car was different to the one I used in Barcelona and it handled quite differently, so that was something to get used to. I had limited time in practice and qualifying, but learnt quickly and I was pleased to be so close to the top six.
“I gave it everything in the race after a difficult first lap and I felt like I had a really good race car underneath me, so thank you to Lechner Racing and my mechanic Alex for that. If we’d have had another lap or two I’m confident I’d have got into the top ten, but I’m still pleased with the result we got.
“Competing on my home Grand Prix weekend at Silverstone is truly special and I’ve had loads of sponsors, potential sponsors, family and friends here to enjoy it with, so a massive thank you to them for all of their support.”
Image from Porsche AG/Hoch Zwei.