OLIPHANT ENDURES FRUSTRATING WEEKEND NORTH OF THE BORDER
Team BMW driver Tom Oliphant was left frustrated following the latest Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship race weekend (14/15 August), as luck deserted him at Knockhill.
Reaching the special milestone of a century of BTCC races in Scotland, Oliphant saw his day unravel following contact in the opening contest.
Aiming to bounce back from a bruising Oulton Park weekend which saw his BMW 330i M Sport undergo substantial repairs in between events, the West Surrey Racing pilot found out how close the margins are around the rollercoaster Fife circuit in qualifying.
In what proved to be an ultra-competitive affair which saw the top 15 covered by less than half a second, the Leamington Spa-based racer was less than three tenths away from pole and just one-tenth off the second row as he powered his way to tenth.
Running the soft tyre from fifth on the grid for the initial encounter, the 30-year-old was in the midst of a feisty battle at the latter end of the top ten before contact from a rival while exiting the final hairpin sent him spinning into the infield and dropping him to the back of the pack.
Tasked with beginning to salvage his race day in the second contest – which was the 100th for the two-time race winner in the UK’s premier motorsport series – Oliphant found himself in the thick of the action as soon as the lights went out.
Making unavoidable contact with Nic Hamilton off the start, the BRDC member only sustained superficial damage to the front of his rear-wheel drive machine. After a brief safety car period, racing resumed and he was soon on the move.
Working his way up the order, Oliphant made a number of notable overtakes on his way to finishing 17th, narrowly falling short of the points.
Starting the third and final race where he finished the previous bout, Oliphant capped off an otherwise frustrating weekend north of the border by claiming a handful of points, taking the chequered flag in 14th.
“It’s been another frustrating weekend where we haven’t been able to show what we can really do,” admitted Oliphant. “The contact in race one really put us on the back foot.
“I gave it everything I had in races two and three and we moved forward. It’s just when you’re in the middle of the pack it is hard to progress; it’s almost one step forward and two steps back sometimes.
“The car felt quick, and credit has to go to everyone at West Surrey Racing and Willie Poole Motorsport for ensuring it was ready in time. The amount of work that went on between events to repair the Oulton Park damage was monumental.
“Heading into the second half of the season the aim is just to get as many wins and podiums as possible and see where we end up. Hopefully we can have a bit better luck.”
The Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship next heads back to the scene of the 2021 season opener and fastest circuit on the calendar, Thruxton, for Rounds 16, 17 and 18 on 28/29 August.