Tom Oliphant highlighted his impressive race pace with two fastest laps during a bruising Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship event at Knockhill this past weekend (14/15 September).
Working through a methodical testing programme across Saturday’s two free practice sessions, the Leamington Spa-based racer produced a star performance in qualifying as he powered his rear-wheel-drive machine to seventh on the grid - hot on the heels of team-mate Colin Turkington.
Oliphant was forced to dig deep and underline his credentials in the first of Sunday’s three races as he bounced back from a drive-through penalty. Deemed to have jumped the start, the Haines Watts Esher and Sports Alive-backed ace was forced to serve the punishment after a brief early safety car period.
Rejoining at the back of the grid, Oliphant had the bit between his teeth as he produced a storming drive to scythe his way through the field, clinching a solitary point in 15th whilst also picking up the fastest lap of the race.
Opting to start on the medium tyre for race two, the 29-year-old found himself in the thick of the action as he bid to make progress. Dicing with Aiden Moffat for the majority of the 24-lap encounter, Oliphant crossed the line in 14th to pick up a couple more points.
Back on the faster soft tyre for the final race of the weekend, Oliphant was in the midst of the battle once again, running as high as seventh before attempting a bold move around the outside of Matt Neal through the high-speed chicane.
After being forced wide across the gravel, the Cheshire born racer had to continue his charge and brought the car home in 13th. His clear pace was shown once again as he claimed the fastest lap of the race for the second time in the day.
Following the eighth weekend of the season, Oliphant sits 13th in the BTCC Drivers’ Championship and holds second in the Jack Sears Trophy, whilst Team BMW are second and first in the BTCC Teams’ Championship and BTCC Manufacturer/Constructors Championship respectively.
Tom Oliphant: “It has been a frustrating weekend and one of those that could have been so different. We’ve had good pace since first turning a wheel on Saturday but a drive-through penalty - for a five-second board that was held for much longer than it should have been - has written our Sunday off.
“Had it not been for that then I think we could have ran at the front comfortably. Instead, we were in the midfield and fighting towards the lower points paying positions. Coming away with two fastest laps is a small consolation.
“We’ll head back home, take stock of the weekend and come back stronger at Silverstone in a couple of weeks’ time.”
The Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship heads to the home of British motorsport, Silverstone, for the penultimate event of the 2019 season on September 28/29.
Image from Jakob Ebrey Photography.