Team BMW’s Tom Oliphant defended the team’s decision to let reigning champion Colin Turkington pass in the final British Touring Car Championship race at Oulton Park, but admitted he believes his team-mate “owes him one.”
The Brands Hatch race three winner endured a mixed weekend at the Cheshire circuit, running strongly on used wet tyres in the opening race before falling back to 12th come the chequered flag.
He then recovered to sixth in the second encounter, before rocketing into second position in the final race and challenging Adam Morgan’s Mercedes in an attempt to gain his second series victory.
At mid-distance, Oliphant demonstrably indicated and moved over into Lodge Corner to let Turkington through to attack Morgan with the understanding that his team-mate would relinquish the position if he was unsuccessful.
While Oliphant ultimately understood the team order, he noted it was “one of those things” that the red flag denied Turkington the opportunity to give the position back in the closing laps.
“I feel like he definitely owes me one. We discuss these things a lot and at the time the team wanted to do what was best for BMW to try and win the race,” Oliphant told ITV post-race.
“I got asked to move over – there wasn’t much discussion in it but that’s fine – I obliged and let Colin attack.
“The deal was obviously if the race hadn’t been red-flagged that he would have given me the place back, but he didn’t get a chance to do that. That’s just one of those things, but to finish my day on the podium is really good.
“We selected the wrong tyres in race one and fell backwards so I felt like we needed to rescue the weekend a little bit.”
Questioned whether it was frustrating from his perspective to give the position and the battle for the lead up, Oliphant pointed out that being willing to play the team game could potentially favour him in future.
“You have to do what’s best for both drivers, and at the time when I let him through, Colin obviously had clean air and I was tucked up behind Adam so it looked like he was a lot quicker than us,” he explained.
“But obviously when you’re tucked up behind another car you can’t really get the true pace out of it. It’s just one of those things, it’ll come back for me at some point I’m sure.
“I did the team duties last year and clearly did the team duty in that race. I got the podium at the end of the day so I’ve got to be pleased.”