Century Motorsport secured a pair of podium finishes in the hands of championship contender Tom Oliphant during a hugely positive fourth meeting of the 2015 Michelin Ginetta GT4 Supercup season at Oulton Park.
Oliphant secured his fifth and sixth podium finishes of the season around his home circuit, while Ollie Jackson made another step forward in the series as he followed his team-mate home for a pair of fourth place finishes.
The meeting started in perfect fashion for Oliphant in Friday practice as a great day of running ended with him top of the timesheets by nearly half a second, filling him with confidence heading into the race weekend.
Oliphant held provisional pole early in Saturday’s qualifying session, however rivals blocking him twice on fast laps during the crucial middle period of the session meant that despite improving his time late on, the lap of 1m 25.412s could only secure him fourth on the grid.
A superb start to the opening race saw Oliphant storm around the outside of Will Burns through the first corner to take third place, a position he would comfortably maintain for the remainder of the encounter despite a dislodged bonnet forcing him to back off considerably in the closing stages.
In the weekend’s second and final race, Oliphant impressively ran in third from lights-to-flag, pulling clear of the pack behind before putting championship leader Carl Breeze under considerable pressure over the final handful of laps, though he was unable to find a way through on the tight Oulton circuit.
Ollie Jackson meanwhile headed to Cheshire buoyed by an upturn in performance at Thruxton last time out, and despite not testing at Oulton prior to the meeting, the former BTCC racer was able to slot straight into the competitive front pack in Friday practice.
In qualifying, Jackson would improve on his Friday best by over four tenths of a second to take eighth on the grid. He wouldn’t stay there long in the opening race though, a tremendous first lap seeing him gain three places to settle in fifth.
From there, he produced a composed drive to keep former British GT champion Michael Caine at arm’s length throughout the encounter, benefitting from a rival in front retiring to pick up his first top four finish of the campaign.
It proved to be a similar story in the second race as well, with Jackson settling into fourth position from the off and maintaining a half a second gap throughout to complete his best weekend so far in his maiden Supercup campaign.
For Osamu Kawashima meanwhile, only his second ever race meeting at Oulton Park produced his biggest challenge of the Supercup season to date as he took on a number of vastly more experienced rivals in the biggest and most competitive AM class field yet.
The Japanese racer rose to the challenge though, once again showing impressive progression across the race weekend. After getting crucial miles under his belt in practice, Kawashima knocked over a second off his time in qualifying to take sixth in class for the opening race.
After maintaining that spot early in the race, Kawashima benefitted from an incident ahead to take a strong fourth in class at the flag. Unfortunately his second race ended on the first lap though after an over-ambitious move from a rival broke his G55’s suspension at the chicane.
Despite that disappointment Kawashima remains a clear second in the AM class points, while in the overall standings Oliphant’s podium double has moved him back up to third place, while Jackson has closed the gap to the championship top six ahead of the visit to Croft next time out on June 27/28.
Tom Oliphant – #15:
“It’s hard to pass around this circuit, so it’s one of those weekends where it’s all about qualifying. We topped the timesheets in Friday practice by nearly half a second, but in hindsight that was probably our demise in qualifying as they knew they had to scupper me in some way and I ended up fourth.”
“To turn a poor qualifying into two third places around here is a good weekend overall. I was trying my best to pass Carl [Breeze] in race two, but the loss of aero through turn one and Druids hurts you, and while I got close a couple of times, I didn’t want to risk the podium with a 50/50 move. I’m happy we’ve moved up to third in the points and we’re looking forward to Croft.”
Ollie Jackson – #48:
“It’s been a brilliant weekend. We’re continuing to make great progress as a team and I’m feeling more and more comfortable in the car, which is translating into race results. I’ve made life hard for myself in qualifying so far this season though and that’s something we need to work on.”
“I was pleased to hang on to fourth in the first race, but in race two I really felt like we had the pace for fourth and I spent little time defending my position. We’ve made lots of progression this season and I feel we took another big step forwards this weekend.”
Osamu Kawashima – #11:
“The weekend was a little disappointing with damage in the last race. We got faster and faster after free practice and had a good result in race one. I’m still second in the championship and look forward to racing at Croft. Thanks to the guys again at Century Motorsport!”
Nathan Freke – Team Principal, Century Motorsport:
“Practice went really well with Tom, we got the car dialled in and it was looking really good for the weekend. It never really came together in qualifying though, we didn’t optimise the pace and Tom couldn’t get a clear lap, which unfortunately put us fourth.”
“That was disappointing considering the pace we had in practice, but he gained the place at the start of race one and held it well throughout in a fairly uneventful race. Tom crawled all over the back of Carl [Breeze] in the second race and had the pace to finish second comfortably, but just couldn’t find a way through. Two third places certainly isn’t a bad result though.”
“Ollie’s had the best weekend he’s had so far in the championship and we’re delighted. There were improvements found in both the car and Ollie throughout practice, and qualifying was okay with eighth, but by his own admission he probably didn’t quite get it quite right.”
“A blistering start to race one got him up to fifth and he enjoyed some great battles, before moving up to his best finish so far with fourth. It was another brilliant drive in race two, he held fourth the entire time without any major pressure from behind. His pace moved closer to the top three throughout the weekend and he should be ecstatic with how the weekend’s gone.”
“It was a bit of a tricky weekend for Osamu. He struggled a little bit to get down to the pace in practice, but he did a great job in qualifying and found a lot of pace. He improved further for race one and got a good result with fourth, keeping his nose clean with some carnage around him. Race two was a shame, but another positive weekend overall for him.”