Tom Oliphant was ‘very pleased’ to be the best BMW driver throughout the British Touring Car Championship races at Thruxton last weekend, even though the 28-year-old missed out on another podium finish.
Oliphant qualified as the best of the three WSR drivers on Saturday, putting his 330i M Sport in seventh on the grid for the first race of the weekend.
The Tarporley driver made progress in the opening encounter, finishing the race in fifth, also setting himself up for a stronger starting position in race two.
Oliphant then raced to a fourth-place finish, narrowly missing out on a podium finish when Honda’s Matt Neal passed him on the finish straight at the very end of the race – with the margin being less than a tenth of a second.
Although Oliphant started from third on the race three reverse grid, he dropped out of podium contention when a late-race rain shower played into the hands of his front-wheel drive opposition, leaving Oliphant to finish in seventh.
Nevertheless, Oliphant enjoyed the status as the best BMW driver throughout the weekend, being ahead of team-mates and title protagonists Colin Turkington and Andrew Jordan throughout qualifying and all three races.
“I’ve been the top BMW points-scorer in all three races and in qualifying, and that’s the first time it’s happened, so I’m very pleased about that,” said Oliphant.
“We’ve had the 3 Series in the sweet spot from practice onwards and that’s given me a lot of confidence to drive really hard all day.
“Yes it’s a bit disappointing to miss the podium in race two by less than a tenth of a second, and for the rain to come in race three when I was on course for second or third, but I’ve won the Jack Sears Trophy for the round, brought myself right back into contention for that title, and had three clean races and a big points haul.
“If we can take this form into Knockhill, where the BMW’s rear-wheel-drive should be a big help, we can have another good weekend there.”
WSR Team Principal Dick Bennetts praised the performance of Oliphant, who he felt should have had a podium finish to take away from the weekend but for the weather.
“Tom’s done an extremely good job,” said Bennetts. “He’s qualified strong, shown good race pace and was so close to finishing on the podium.
“Without the rain in race three, which was to the benefit of the front-wheel-drive cars, he’d have been third or higher, but he’s won the Jack Sears Trophy and that’s a good achievement.”
Oliphant moves up to 11th in the drivers’ championship standings after his trio of top tens, with 129 points to his name.