BRANDS HATCH INDY RECAP: ROUND SEVEN
TOM OLIPHANT TAKES IMPRESSIVE RACE ONE WIN
With just over a week left to wait until the Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship heads to Oulton Park (31 July/1 August) for the first event following the five-week summer break, let’s check back over what happened last time out, on Brands Hatch’s Indy circuit.
Team BMW’s Tom Oliphant took a hugely impressive victory in the opening race at Brands Hatch, having made a stellar getaway from the second row of the grid before going on to fend off three-time champion Gordon Shedden.
Halfords Racing with Cataclean’s front-row lockout immediately unravelled as pole-sitter Daniel Rowbottom bogged down off the line, while Oliphant was storming through to P1.
MB Motorsport accelerated by Blue Square’s Jake Hill was slightly held up by the sluggish starting Honda Civic Type R of Rowbottom, as was Shedden, with Laser Tools Racing’s Aiden Moffat scampering through into second.
Shedden and Moffat made slight contact on lap five with the former grabbing the position through Druids, which also allowed Hill and the recovering Rowbottom to get by the Laser Tools-backed Infiniti.
Moffat was further shuffled down the order late on as the battle for the lead built towards a tense climax.
Shedden produced the fastest lap of the race as he began reeling in Oliphant’s BMW 3-Series, but it proved too little too late as the #15 car held on, despite being bulked by a back-marker on the final lap.
It was a richly deserved victory for Oliphant, the second of his BTCC career so far.
“I’ve had terrible luck this year,” said Oliphant. “We’ve had some great pace and I’ve loved driving the car, but I didn’t expect to win this one. I just got such a good start and then the first five laps I was in quali mode. I got the gap and just managed the tyres.
“I was just trying to control the race and not make any mistakes. Gordon [Shedden] is a very experienced racing driver and as soon as he got past and into second I knew I was going to have to work for it in the end.
“The last two corners weren’t enjoyable, I honestly didn’t know what was going to happen. I couldn’t put myself at risk trying to overtake [Rick Parfitt] on the outside so I think as soon as he noticed I was right with him, he did move out of the way and it didn’t cost me a win so that’s absolutely fine.
“But having Gordon hunting you down for 24 laps is nerve-wracking enough! I’m just over the moon. The car’s been brilliant all weekend so I’m really pleased to bring it home for my car crew and my engineers who did an amazing job.”
The Team Dynamics duo completed the rostrum with Rowbottom securing his first-ever podium in the BTCC after his battling drive back through the order.
“I’m disappointed in a way not to win,” confirmed Shedden. “We lost so much time to Tom in the first three laps, until I managed to get past Aiden [Moffat], and then I could see him in the distance but he didn’t make any mistakes.
“We all wondered about what the weather was going to do, but my car was really, really good. I’m happy with it, just couldn’t get it going early enough to make hay while the sun shined. We’ll look forward to the next one and see if we can score some more points.”
“We definitely didn’t nail [the start] did we?” said Rowbottom. “I rang Matt [Neal] for some last-minute advice and he said, ‘don’t panic, just launch it like a road car’ – turns out that’s not the right thing to do! Or maybe I took it too literally. It was a bit pants if I’m honest, but after that, I got my head down and ended P3 so, first podium, that will do!”
Home hero Hill was fourth, whilst Laser Tools Racing’s Ash Sutton completed his own eventful race to finish fifth.
The Ginsters EXCELR8 with TradePriceCars.com pairing of Tom Ingram and Chris Smiley were sixth and seventh respectively, ahead of Moffat, whilst BTC Racing’s Josh Cook and Team HARD. with Autobrite Direct’s Jack Goff rounded out the top ten.
If you still need some more BTCC action to tide you over until Oulton Park, ITV’s 60-second highlights clip below can fill you in on all the key moments from the race and head back to btcc.net tomorrow for a race two recap!