Tom Oliphant was left to rue a difficult qualifying session as he saw podium pace go unrewarded during the penultimate meeting of the 2017 Porsche Carrera Cup GB season at Silverstone this past weekend (16/17 September).
The Leamington Spa-based racer headed to his local circuit off the back of his all-round strongest meeting of the season so far at Knockhill last time out, when he recorded a second podium finish of the campaign to add to his standout success at Le Mans earlier this year.
Silverstone was a happy stomping ground for Oliphant last season when he picked up his maiden top three finish in the Carrera Cup GB, and he immediately felt at home again around the short, fast National circuit during official testing on Tuesday and Friday.
Unfortunately the 27 year old would encounter a nightmare qualifying session on Saturday though, as traffic problems left him unable to get a clear run on his second set of tyres, whilst over-zealous track limits penalties saw no less than ten of his lap times removed.
Those troubles meant that the Philips automotive lighting and Horizon Specialities supported driver would line up sixth and eighth on the grid for Sunday’s two races, the first of which would provide a real challenge as the field tackled a damp circuit on slick tyres.
Strong early pace would allow Oliphant to storm into fourth position heading into Becketts for the first time before forging a gap to the pack behind, though unfortunately all his hard work would be spoiled by backmarkers as the race progressed.
A near four second to his closest pursuer would be eradicated as Oliphant got held up trying to negotiate a number of drivers ahead of him not adhering to the blue flags, with it ultimately culminating in a lost position and a frustrating fifth place finish.
Oliphant put that behind him though and produced a great showing in the live-televised second race later that afternoon, with a couple of characteristically fantastic overtaking manoeuvres, including one around the outside at Brooklands corner, netting him a deserved fifth position.
The two top five finishes mean Oliphant remains in a clear fourth place in the championship standings as he prepares to bring his second year in the Porsche Carrera Cup GB to a close during the season finale at Brands Hatch GP next weekend (16/17 September).
Tom Oliphant: “Overall, I’m happy with the speed we showed throughout the week and we had the potential to be fighting for the podiums, but sadly luck just wasn’t on our side in qualifying and that set us up for a difficult couple of races.
“It’s a shame that because of some questionable track limits decisions we didn’t start where we should have because we had great pace in the car, especially in race two when I was quicker than everyone in front of me over the second half of the race.
“This weekend could have delivered so much more for us, if the situation was different we could have taken home a trophy for sure, but we’re determined to carry this pace into the final meeting of the season at Brands Hatch GP and end the year on a high.”
Image from Dan Bathie/Porsche.