The annual trip to Corby presented the team’s trio of drivers with a unique challenge around the banked Rockingham circuit, but they all rose to the occasion to battle at the front of their respective classes in the two races.
Outright championship leader Tom Oliphant returned to the scene of his Supercup debut in 2013 in confident mood, having won six of the last nine races prior to the meeting to build a 59 points advantage.
He carried that momentum over into free practice on Friday, topping the timesheets in both sessions, before another superb performance in qualifying saw him take his fourth consecutive pole position with a 1m 21.529s lap.
Oliphant lost the lead at the start of race one to the fast-starting Carl Breeze, but he remained within two seconds of the former champion throughout the race before closing up in the final laps, but unfortunately he was unable to make a real challenge for the lead.
With tyre wear a real factor around the Rockingham circuit, Oliphant found himself in a tough fight for second in the final race. After showing his defensive prowess in the early stages to withhold Will Burns, Oliphant ended up powerless to stop Burns getting through late on.
Oliphant maintained third place to the flag to continue his sensational run of thirteen consecutive podium finishes, results that mean despite a double victory for Breeze, the absence of Jamie Orton from the races mean Oliphant’s championship lead has only been shortened by two points across the weekend.
For Ollie Jackson, it proved to be one of his most impressive weekends of the season so far. After showing top six pace from the off in free practice, he set the seventh fastest time in qualifying, narrowly missing out on the top five by just over two tenths of a second.
Jackson was confident of moving forward in the races though and so it proved, with him producing an overtaking masterclass in race one. Starting sixth in Orton’s absence, Jackson produced a stunning early move on Bradley Smith around the outside of the Tarzan hairpin for fifth.
Closing a two second gap to Tom Wrigley ahead in the middle stages, Jackson got ahead with a slick pass through the final Brook chicane onto the banking to take fourth at the finish – a result he replicated during a quiet race two to make it twelve top six finishes for the campaign.
Osamu Kawashima meanwhile headed into the meeting knowing a positive weekend would see him regain the AM class points lead in the absence of main rival Colin White, and that came to fruition for the Japanese racer as he showed superb progress across the weekend.
Big improvements across free practice set him up for a positive qualifying session, with a best effort of 1m 26.478s being over six tenths better than his Friday best. From there, Kawashima was able to put a strong drive together in race one to take second in class.
A fantastic drive in race two saw him move past Fraser Robertson into the class lead on lap fifteen. He looked set for victory until a chassis break late on meant he had to cruise to second at the flag – his sixteenth class podium of the year giving him a 31 point class lead.
Five races now remain in the 2015 Ginetta GT4 Supercup season, with Rounds 23 and 24 taking place at the ‘Home of British Motorsport’, Silverstone in three weeks’ time, 26/27 September, before the Brands Hatch GP finale on 10/11 October.
Tom Oliphant – #15:
“All throughout testing, we always knew we had better qualifying pace than we had race pace, so that’s something we’ve been working on all weekend. Our races were hampered by the fact the drivers around us had the benefit of better spare tyres than us after they didn’t finish races earlier in the season. Two podiums is great however and we’re pretty much in the same position as I was coming into this weekend, so that’s a bonus.”
Ollie Jackson – #48:
“It’s been a really positive weekend. I still need to improve on my qualifying but I’ve shown again that I can race and move forwards right onto the back of the front group. The car has been fantastic. We had a few tyre wear issues which held me back a bit in race two, but ultimately I couldn’t ask for much more from the weekend.”
Osamu Kawashima – #11:
“I’m really happy to get two more podium finishes this weekend. I made progress in every session and caught up with the other drivers in my class. It’s a shame the chassis broke to take away the victory, but I got more big points for the championship. Thank you very much to Century Motorsport for all their support.”
Nathan Freke – Team Principal, Century Motorsport:
“It’s been a good weekend all round. It started really positively for Tom in practice and he did a perfect job in qualifying again. He didn’t get the start in race one, which was a shame, and whilst he had the pace, he just couldn’t do much with it and had to settle for second.
Race two was a difficult one as the other drivers were able to use carry over tyres which hurt us, but it comes to something when you’re disappointed with second and third in a race weekend. He still has a healthy championship lead and will go to Silverstone and be very quick.
Ollie has produced a really solid weekend. There was a bit of work to do after practice, but he did a very tidy lap in qualifying and he was unlucky not to be a couple of places higher. We were confident after looking at the data that he’d have good race pace and so it proved.
He drove like a demon in race one with some clean overtaking moves to take a deserved fourth place. Race two was quite quiet for him, holding fourth throughout, and I think another podium is certainly on the cards in the final two meetings.
It was a similar story for Osamu to most race weekends, getting him into the groove with the circuit that whilst he has driven it before, it was in a different layout in a much different car. He got up to speed on Friday and showed good progress in qualifying. He drove really well in both races, particularly race two, and was unlucky not to take the win in that one.
There’s been good points for everyone this weekend, all three drivers drove great and we’re looking forward to pushing on at Silverstone.”