BTCC: BRANDS HATCH
Tom Oliphant wins race one for WSR, Tom Ingram wins race two for Excelr8 and Adam Morgan takes race three for Cicely.
Team BMW’s Tom Oliphant took a hugely impressive victory in the opening race at Brands Hatch, having made a stellar getaway from the second row of the grid before going on to fend off three-time champion Gordon Shedden.
Halfords Racing with Cataclean’s front-row lockout immediately unravelled as pole-sitter Daniel Rowbottom bogged down off the line, hampering teammate Gordon Shedden in the process and allowing Tom Oliphant to take the lead from fourth on the grid.
Shedden produced the fastest lap of the race as he began reeling in Oliphant, but it proved too little too late as the BMW 3-Series held on, despite being baulked by a back-marker on the final lap.
It was a richly deserved victory for Oliphant, the second of his BTCC career so far.
The Team Dynamics duo completed the rostrum with Rowbottom securing his first-ever podium in the BTCC after a battling drive back through the order.
On to race two and Oliphant’s impressive form continued: Carrying the full 75kg of success ballast in his West Surrey Racing-run BMW 330i M Sport following his win in race one, Tom was over two seconds clear of the field at the end of the first lap, but his good work was undone by a safety car, ironically resulting from an incident involving his WSR stablemate Stephen Jelley.
Having dropped from second to 13th position by the end of the first lap, Gordon Shedden then came under attack into Paddock Hill Bend from the WSR BMW of Stephen Jelley. There was contact between the pair, and Jelley went onto the grass, then sailed helplessly across the track, nudging the Honda into the gravel before hitting the barrier.
Dan Rowbottom in the other Dynamics Honda was running second at the restart ahead of Ingram, but Oliphant had an excellent restart to re-establish himself at the front.
With Oliphant’s ballast beginning to tell, Tom Ingram sensed his opportunity on the last lap and went alongside the BMW only for Oliphant to close the door and the two to make contact. Both controlled the moment beautifully, with Oliphant still narrowly ahead, but Ingram had an overlap on the inside up to Druids and completed the move.
Worse was to come for Oliphant when he was relegated to third by Ash Sutton.
Rowbottom came home in fourth, with the BTC Racing Honda of Josh Cook in fifth.
Race three saw the third victory of the day for drivers using Cobra seats when Adam Morgan led from start to finish to claim the first win for the new Car Gods with Ciceley Motorsport team’s BMW 330i M Sport (there’s a mouthful!!).