Hot on his heels is BTCC convert Ollie Jackson, who having taken one podium so far this year is edging closer and closer at becoming a podium regular each time out.
Japanese racer Osamu Kawashima is having a superb season to date in the AM class, earning himself a healthy advantage in second position, but ever keen to eat into class leader Colin White at a moment’s notice.
Opting to pursue his title chances in Knockhill this weekend instead of returning to British GT, Tom Oliphant got his weekend started in style securing pole position for race one. The Mulgari Automotive backed driver went on to take a lights to flag victory in race one, topped off by setting the fastest lap and smashing the circuit’s class lap record.
Thanks to his opening race victory, Oliphant started Sunday’s race two once again from pole position. Keen to pull off a repeat performance, Tom secured a very controlled and confident lights to flag victory, his weekend so far emulating that of last time out at Snetterton. With the race two winner selecting the reverse grid number for race three, Tom drew number six which would mean he would start Sunday’s final race from the third row on the grid.
Despite making a solid start, Oliphant found himself stuck behind Will Burns during the early part of the race. Finding a way past on lap seven, Tom set on a charge towards the front, eager to become a triple race winner this season. By lap 11, Oliphant had made his way to the first of the podium places. Now locked in battle for second with Reece Somerfield, teammate Ollie Jackson was now in the mix as Somerfield defended his position. Despite a brief place swap between the teammates coming out of the hairpin, Oliphant moved back in front coming into Duffers before pulling off a fantastic move around the outside of Somerfield to move into second. With race leader Wrigley capitalizing on the squabble for second to open a significant advantage at the head of the field, Tom took the flag in second to increase his championship lead to 59 points.
Ollie Jackson couldn’t have got his weekend off to a much better start by topping the timesheets in Friday’s Free Practice 1. With some minor issues hampering his progress from there, Jackson lined up in sixth for Saturday’s opening race of the weekend. In what would be a relatively drama-free race, Ollie secured his starting position to the flag.
Starting again from sixth in race two, Jackson was keen to make a move towards the front; having re-established his confidence in the Corbeau backed Ginetta G55. At the end of the opening lap, Ollie had moved up to fifth capitalizing on the spinning Breeze at the hairpin and now set about reeling in Tom Wrigley for fourth. The battle ran for the majority of the race before Jackson pieced together a superb pass that started with a switch-back move at the hairpin to give him the inside line for the run down the straight to fourth where he would complete the race.
Starting third for race three by virtue of the top six places being reversed from race two’s finishing order, Ollie made a fantastic start to the race to challenge for the lead at the first corner. Slipping into second, a tight battle was now set to commence between Reece Somerfield, Tom Wrigley and Ollie. There was plenty of place swapping at the front before championship leader Tom Oliphant joined the party to slip past Jackson into third. With Reece Somerfield holding up the charging Oliphant, Ollie found himself making a move back into third at the hairpin briefly before Tom moved back in front at the first corner. With Oliphant eventually finding a way past Somerfield, Jackson was keen to emulate the move but contact between the pair sent Ollie to the pits to repair a puncture as a result. Returning to the track for the final couple of laps, Jackson crossed the finish line in ninth.
Osamu Kawashima made yet another British circuit debut this weekend, making the trip to Scotland for his first taste of Knockhill. In now typical fashion, the Japanese driver made strong progress during each session.
Starting race one as third AM class car, Kawashima enjoyed a good battle early on with Fraser Robertson for second, before the latter spun and allowed Kawashima to charge home to second in class.
Again starting as third AM class car for race two, Osamu would have a much more action packed race. An intense battle got underway with Robertson for second place. However the ever improving Kawashima pressurized his rival into a mistake coming out of Clark’s to move up to second which he would secure to the end.
The final race of the weekend was almost an identical encounter to race two. Osamu and Fraser resumed battle for the runner-up spot, swapping positions on every lap. However a trip to the gravel for Robertson would allow Japan’s sole representative on the TOCA package to make it a trio of runner-up finishes to strengthen his second place in the AM Class Championship.
Tom Oliphant – #15:
“This weekend has been absolutely fantastic, we just came here and tried to emulate what we did at Snetterton and scored over 100 points again which is fantastic. I couldn’t really ask for more, the team, the car, everybody did a brilliant job. Going into Rockingham, there is no reason why I can’t win both races and put it on pole. Historically it’s a circuit that’s been very, very strong for me so I’m looking forward to it!”
Ollie Jackson – #48:
“It’s been a bit of a mixed weekend. The team did a great job, the car has been spot on all weekend, but it’s been pretty mixed luck with the wishbone failure in FP2 which set me back to the middle of race one. Race two was good to finish fourth and race three would have been exciting but unfortunately some questionable driving in front of me caused some incidents, so I think we’ll just put that one down to bad luck!”
Osamu Kawashima – #11:
“Thank you very much to the Century guys and girls this weekend. Everybody in the team was a big support to me this weekend, my first time to Knockhill. I’m very happy to finish second in the three races. I’m hoping to get a little bit faster in the next three races to catch Colin!”
Nathan Freke – Team Principal, Century Motorsport:
“It’s been another amazing weekend for Tom, two wins and a second is a pretty faultless performance. Osamu had another solid weekend with a set of second place finishes. It’s a shame Ollie was denied a podium in the last race. He is knocking on the door of another one and it’s sure to happen soon. For Century it’s been a dream weekend so I’m completely happy with the way things are going.”