Tom Oliphant produced a clear indication of his potential in the Porsche Carrera Cup GB after storming through to a pair of top five finishes during his championship debut at Brands Hatch this weekend (02/03 April).
Bouncing back from an unsatisfying qualifying performance, Oliphant showcased his overtaking prowess with some sublime moves to pick up fifth and fourth place finishes to slot into joint-fourth in the championship standings.
The weekend got off to a positive start in Friday practice as Oliphant immediately settled into the top five across both 45 minute sessions, finishing the day fifth fastest with a best effort of 46.986 seconds around the short 1.2 mile Indy circuit, three tenths of a second off top spot.
The Leamington Spa based racer was confident of improving his lap time in Saturday’s qualifying, but a frustrating session saw issues with traffic hamper his crucial final flying laps, restricting him to an uncharacteristic sixth and eighth on the grid for Sunday’s two races.
The qualifying frustration fired Oliphant up for race day though and after losing a spot on the opening lap of race one, he was a man on a mission in his Redline Racing Porsche following an early safety car period, quickly dispatching Stephen Jellley for sixth place at Surtees.
A couple of laps later Oliphant pulled out the overtake of the race with a sensational move around the outside of Jonas Gelzinis at Druids, giving him a fifth position that he would maintain to the chequered flag, having seen attempts to move into fourth thwarted by time lost lapping traffic.
The highlight of the weekend would come in the live televised second race, with a fantastic launch off the line seeing him immediately gain two places to sixth position, before a carbon copy of his around the outside move at Druids from race one secured him fifth from Charlie Eastwood.
From there, Oliphant spent the remainder of the race in the middle of a thrilling battle over the final podium position. After a slick move on Tom Sharp at McLaren gave him fourth, he closely pursued Jelley but was unable to find a way past.
The fourth place still capped off an impressive Carrera Cup GB debut for the 25 year old though, with a maiden podium finish firmly in his sights in a fortnight’s time (16/17 April) at Silverstone as the championship joins the support bill for the FIA World Endurance Championship.
Tom Oliphant: “I’m over the moon with my first results in the championship. Saturday was a real disappointment as I think looking at the data, we had the pace to be in the top three on the grid for the two races.
“Therefore, if someone told me we were going to get fourth and fifth place finishes in the races I’d have snapped their hands off! Everyone last season said you can’t overtake in Porsches, so I went out there determined to prove everybody wrong and I think I did.
“There’s some really good drivers in this field, but I put myself in and around the best and earned their respect pretty quickly. It was always going to be hard here, it’s a difficult track, but we go to Silverstone GP now fully focusing on competing for pole positions and race wins.”
Source. Simon Paice Media/Photos. James Lipman/Porsche