Oliphant in BMW at Brands Hatch

Tom Oliphant enjoyed a positive start to his Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship campaign after claiming a career-best sixth place finish at Brands Hatch in the new-for-2019 Team BMW 330i M Sport.

The Tarporley-born racer had limited testing in the all-new 330i M Sport before the weekend.

But his two free practice sessions were pivotal ahead of race day.

And Oliphant and the Sunbury squad were on the pace immediately, with the 28-year-old topping the times at the end of second practice.

Qualifying proved to be frenetic for pole position with the element of rain adding a further curveball.

Oliphant underlined his credentials as one to watch as he secured a career-best qualifying of fifth, having earlier sat on provisional pole for some time.

Tyre strategy became the main topic of conversation as many, including Oliphant, opted for Dunlop’s wet weather compound.

It looked to be the correct one as Oliphant dispatched Jason Plato and leapt into fourth at the start of the race.

Conditions began to improve and those on slicks started to come to the fore, with the BMW man and those around him slipping down the order.

Oliphant crossed the line in 22nd.

Oliphant and Turkington in BMWs at brands hatch

The soft tyre option for the former Ginetta GT4 SuperCup champion served up a charging drive in race two as he and champion team-mate Colin Turkington worked their way up the order, with Oliphant notching his first point of the new season in 15th.

And in the final race Oliphant and Team BMW took on a starring role.

Launching from the eighth row of the grid, the Haines Watts-backed driver worked with Turkington again to scythe their way towards the front.

Producing a string of captivating overtakes, Oliphant worked his way deeper into the top 10 and took the chequered flag in sixth place, bettering his best of seventh last year and signing off the weekend in style.

Oliphant said: “Overall it has been a really positive weekend.

“If you had said I would achieve my best qualifying and race result at the start of the weekend then I would have bitten your hand off.

tom oliphant

Tom Oliphant

“We were hampered by the weather and the lack of running we have had in race one, but to then claw ourselves back through the field in races two and three is something to be really pleased about.

“We knew we had a quick car and when the conditions were constant we were able to show that in the final race. We ended the weekend on a high and when you look at what all three of us have been able to do, it bodes well.

“Everyone at West Surrey Racing deserves so much credit.

“They have done an extraordinary job with this car and confidence is high as we head into the next few rounds.”

Oliphant is 14th in the Drivers’ standings whilst BMW sit tied on points at the top of the BTCC Manufacturer/Constructors Championship.

The Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship continues on April 27/28 at Donington Park.

(Images by Jakob Ebrey)

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