Tom Oliphant produced lightning pace on his first ever visit to the Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi this past weekend (10/11 February) as he superbly equalled his best finish of second place in the latest rounds of the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East.
A fantastic display on his latest trip to the United Arab Emirates would see Oliphant continue his brilliant run of securing a podium finish in each of his outings in the series so far, which has further consolidated his top three championship standing with two meetings remaining.
The 26 year old would quickly get to grips with the 3.45 mile Yas Marina Circuit – the home of the Formula 1 Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix – with top two times in both of Thursday’s free practice sessions setting him up perfectly for the competitive action ahead.
Oliphant would go on to impressively top the timesheets during Friday’s morning practice session, but come qualifying that afternoon, he would only be able to post the fourth fastest time as he found himself struggling for straight-line speed compared to some of his rivals.
The opening race would also prove to be a frustrating affair for the 2015 Michelin Ginetta GT4 Supercup champion as he dropped back to seventh during a disappointing opening lap, though a strong recovery drive would eventually yield a fifth place finish.
With more important championship points in the bag, Oliphant headed into the final day of racing determined to earn more silverware and his chances were improved as he placed his Lechner Racing-run Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car third on the grid for the final encounter.
A great start to the race would see Oliphant storm into second position on the opening lap, though he unfortunately slipped back to third a couple of laps later, albeit with his 2016 Porsche Carrera Cup GB team-mate Charlie Eastwood having overtaken him off circuit.
As he pulled clear of the chasing pack behind, Oliphant looked on course to record a third place finish until a drive through penalty and subsequent black flag for the new race leader Eastwood would promote him to second position with two laps to go.
With a near three second gap to his season-long sparring rival Ryan Cullen ahead, the Leamington Spa racer focused on bringing his car home safely in second to record a richly deserved fourth podium finish of the campaign so far.
That result has kept Oliphant in touch with second place in the championship ahead of a return to Bahrain next month (10/11 March), with him returning to the scene of the opening two meetings of the season with a first win in the series firmly in his sights.
Tom Oliphant: “The Yas Marina circuit really is a spectacular facility and I really enjoyed my time on track – it really separates the men from the boys. After showing great pace in practice, we had a difficult first day of racing and didn’t maximise our opportunities.
“The second day was totally different though. We executed everything to the best of our ability and a second place finish was truly deserved. I’m really looking forward to returning to Bahrain next month and hopefully we can be fighting for victories. Also, I must say a special thank you to Horizon for coming and supporting me over the weekend in Abu Dhabi.”
Source. Simon Paice Media/Photo. Porsche Middle East