Tom Oliphant was left to endure a frustrating return to Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship action this past weekend (03/04 August) as the series roared back into life at Snetterton.
Having entered the annual summer break coming off the back of his best-ever weekend in the BTCC at Oulton Park, the West Surrey Racing driver was keen to serve up another strong performance in his BMW 330i M Sport - but was forced to battle back after a challenging qualifying.
A difficult session for the Leamington Spa based racer saw him lose his fastest time early on for exceeding track limits, before then suffering a tyre flat-spot - consigning him to a tenth row start in 20th for race one.
Opting to run the harder of the three tyre compounds that were available for the weekend, the Haines Watts London-backed ace found himself in the thick of the action in the opening encounter.
Making progress over the course of the 12-lap race, Oliphant powered his Team BMW rear-wheel-drive machine to 16th - narrowly missing out on securing a points finish.
Lining up on the eighth row of the grid and running the soft tyre for race two, the manufacturer-backed driver made yet more progress as he moved further up the order.
Scything his way into the points-paying positions, Oliphant crossed the line in 11th and placed himself in contention for the reverse grid draw - sadly it wasn’t to be as number eight was drawn, meaning he would start race three on row six.
Unfortunately, British Racing Drivers’ Club member saw his weekend cut short as whilst pushing forward with an overtake, he was unceremoniously hit heavily in the rear by another driver, which resulted in suspension damage and curtailed his day on the spot.
Following the weekend’s three races, Oliphant sits 12th in the BTCC Drivers’ Championship whilst Team BMW top the Teams’ and Manufacturer/Constructors standings. In the Jack Sears Trophy, Oliphant remains in second place behind Rory Butcher.
Tom Oliphant: “It has just been one of those weekends! Looking back it all stemmed from qualifying, as we were on the back foot and having to battle our way towards the front in the races.
“Getting the hard tyre out of the way in race one was the logical plan and we managed to stay out of trouble and move forward. I had hoped to make more progress on the soft tyre in race two but when you are in the midfield it is hard to come through the pack.
“Race three was what it was. We had made a good start but it was a case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Looking ahead to Thruxton we need to work on maximising qualifying to ensure we don’t have another weekend like this - we’ll bounce back!”
The Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship now heads back to Hampshire to pay a second visit to Thruxton Circuit on 17/18 August for Rounds 19, 20 & 21.
Image from Jakob Ebrey Photography.