Tom Oliphant accepted losing out to Tom Ingram in the second British Touring Car Championship race at Brands Hatch, but the Team BMW driver admitted that he thought his rival would ‘be sensible’ about his pass for the lead.
Race one winner Oliphant led all bar one lap in the second BTCC encounter in Kent, with the 31-year-old losing out at Paddock Hill bend on the final lap to Ingram.
The Excelr8 Motorsport driver threw his Hyundai up the inside into the corner, having drawn alongside Oliphant, but made contact at the apex of the turn, giving Oliphant a slide.
Both drivers made it through the corner with Ingram as the leader, although Oliphant would ultimately also lose second to Ash Sutton on the drag to the finish line after his loss of momentum earlier in the lap.
Despite the contact, Oliphant did not appear too frustrated with Ingram, admitting that he had expected Ingram to have been ‘a bit sensible’ after he had tried a similar pass earlier in the race which Oliphant was more robust at defending.
“I’ve got a big smile on my face. – honestly, I had good fun,” said Oliphant. “I’m carrying 75 kg, so I was going to struggle, and especially when Tom and Ash were coming through on half my weight.
“I thought I managed the race really well; obviously I kept them behind me.
“The last lap first turn – it [Ingram’s move] was optimistic. He was alongside me and he hit me. He’s an aggressive drive and I potentially should have defend it harder, but we’d literally done that 12 laps earlier and he wasn’t any closer, so I thought he’d just be a bit sensible.
“I’m pleased with P3 – to come away with that many points really kick-starts my season.”
Ingram was unapologetic about the move, explaining that he felt contact would be inevitable when racing so close over a race distance with a rival.
“It took me a while to catch him,” said Ingram. “I could see that the only two places that I was really quicker were coming in to Clearways and then going into Paddock.
“I was just biding my time and trying to see where Tom was quick, where he wasn’t, and where I had a little advantage.
“He was quicker through Surtees – so it was a bit of cat and mouse over the course of the whole lap. I got a fantastic run coming out of Clearways on the final lap, Tom left a gap, and that’s where I didn’t need a second invitation.
“He left plenty of room down the inside, which I didn’t need a second invitation to fill.
“As far as I’m concerned, the gap was there, and I filled it. There was contact, of course there was. At some point you can’t have two cars racing close to each other without having contact.
“Tom saw me coming and gave me room. There was contact, but at some point we’re racing cars at 130, 140 mph around a tight circuit and it’s unavoidable at some point.
“Tom is crazy fast. With 75 kg in they [WSR] have done a fantastic job with that car, because it’s hard to catch. I had half of what they had, and I was struggling. Full respect to WSR, they’ve got a very, very strong car there.”