Oliphant Fights Through To Brilliant Sydney Top Ten
Tom Oliphant produced one of his most impressive drives in the Supercheap Auto TCR Australia Series so far as he charged through the field from 23rd to seventh in race two at Sydney Motorsport Park last weekend (04/05 October).
The largest field of TCR cars ever seen in Australia came together for the penultimate round of the season, with 16 domestic entries joined by nine of the best touring car drivers on the planet as the TCR World Tour joined the action.
A race-winner at Winton back in June, Oliphant was hoping for a strong weekend in his Autoglym Ashley Seward Motorsport prepared Lynk & Co 03 TCR. A great start in free practice saw him producing top-ten pace and mixing it with the established world TCR drivers.
Unfortunately Oliphant ended up being one of a number of drivers caught out by changeable weather in qualifying. Rain started to fall early in Q1 and as he pitted for the standard tyre rotation before his flying laps, the conditions quickly worsened and he was unable to set a competitive time.
The two-time British Touring Car Championship race-winner therefore started an unrepresentative 18th on the grid for race one, which took place at night under the floodlights. Surviving a frenetic first couple of laps, he moved up a couple of spots before a safety car period.
Once again the conditions changed as heavy rain started to fall, leading to a chaotic restart as a number of cars slithered off circuit on slick tyres. After a red flag stoppage and a safety car restart, Oliphant made good progress during the final sprint to the chequered flag to finish in 12th position.
Lining up from the same spot for race two, a nightmare start saw Oliphant stall his Lynk & Co on the grid and slip to the back of the field. He quickly got going and caught the pack, with some smart driving during a chaotic opening lap seeing him move up to 17th.
The rapid progress continued over the next couple of laps as he worked his way up to 11th place before a short safety car period. After the action restarted, he continued to pick off cars one by one as he got himself up to eighth place.
Holding that position through the finish, he gained one more place when a driver ahead received a post-race penalty. The superb comeback drive to seventh meant he finished as the top Lynk & Co car ahead of the four factory entries, and fourth of the TCR Australia entrants for the second consecutive race.
Night racing returned for the final encounter, with the 33-year-old racer maintaining tenth position off the start under the lights. Slotting into a fierce multi-car battle, fine margins between the pack meant progress was tough, before unfortunate brake issues in the closing laps dropped him to 13th.
Tom Oliphant: “We had fantastic pace in the Lynk & Co this weekend, thanks to the great work of Autoglym Ashley Seward Motorsport, and it’s just a shame that some bad luck in qualifying with the changing weather meant he never truly got to show our full potential at the front of the field.
“We finished in the top five of the TCR Australia cars in all three races and were battling it out on track with some of the best TCR drivers in the world, which is all hugely positive for us. The race two drive I’m particularly proud of, it was a proper battle out there and I enjoyed fighting my way through.
“We get to do it all again this weekend at Bathurst and I couldn’t be more excited. I got some running on Mount Panorama with an entry into the V8 SuperUte’s last month and the circuit lives up to all the hype, so I’m really looking forward to seeing what we can achieve there in the Lynk & Co.”
The 2023 Supercheap Auto TCR Australia Series season concludes this coming weekend (10-12 November), combining with the TCR World Tour again for three races around the legendary Mount Panorama Circuit in Bathurst, New South Wales.