Oliphant signs off maiden Touring Car season with first fastest lap
Tom Oliphant enjoyed a positive end to his maiden Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship campaign with a first ever fastest lap in the series and a hard-fought points finish during the season finale around the Brands Hatch Grand Prix circuit.
The Leamington-based driver enjoyed a starring role on the live ITV4 television coverage as he battled with title contenders Tom Chilton, Colin Turkington and Tom Ingram through the race, emerging in 13th place at the chequered flag.
Unfortunately for Oliphant, that proved to be his 12th and final points-scoring finish of the season despite a hugely positive start to race two which saw him move up to 11th early on before getting into the thick of the action in a frenetic race.
Holding on to a points paying position throughout the race, his challenge came to an abrupt end only four laps from the finish when a puncture cruelly caused him to slide off track and into the gravel trap at Druids corner.
Despite that disappointment, the Horizon Specialities and eJIGSAW-backed racer came away with a milestone moment in his burgeoning BTCC career as he posted the outright fastest lap of a race for the first time in the championship.
The 28-year-old showed quicker pace than a number of drivers ahead of him in the final race of the season but some typically robust defensive driving would restrict him to 20th at the finish.
He said: “Sadly the puncture in race two cost us what I thought could have been a hat-trick of points finishes across the day but I gave it everything I had in all three races and I’m pleased that we proved our pace with our first ever fastest lap in the series.
“Overall, I’m very pleased with our first season in the BTCC. It’s been very tough, with plenty of highs and lows along the way but it’s been the most enjoyable season of racing I’ve had for a long time and I feel I’ve developed well as a touring car driver.
“The close, competitive nature of the championship seems to suit me and with a bit more luck, having found myself on the receiving end of contact or suffered an issue with the car in most of the meetings, I feel we had the pace and potential for a standout result.”