Century Motorsport continued their positive start to the 2015 Michelin Ginetta GT4 Supercup season with another podium filled weekend in the third meeting of the season at Thruxton.
Fresh from taking their first wins of the season last time out at Donington Park with Tom Oliphant and Osamu Kawashima, the Century team had high hopes for their annual visit to the fastest circuit in the UK.
Tom Oliphant headed into the weekend with confidence high, having picked up two podium finishes at Thruxton last season and finished third in the official pre-event test, which unlike other rounds took place a month prior to the race weekend.
That meant Oliphant and the rest of the field’s first time on track was in the all-important qualifying session. It proved to be a frustrating outing for Tom as he didn’t quite hook up a perfect lap, leaving him fifth in the times – though a post-session penalty for a rival in front promoted him to the second row.
Tom went on to maintain his fourth place grid start throughout the opening twelve lap race, with some strong pace at the end of the race seeing him close to within a second of the podium positions at the finish, which boded well for the longer sixteen lap races two and three.
It ended up being a quick start to race two that was key for Oliphant, a great move down the inside of erstwhile championship leader Jamie Orton at Goodwood on lap four putting him on course for a podium finish in third.
The reverse grid for the final race placed Tom on the front row and with two new tyres saved for the race he was confident of fighting for the win. After slipping to fourth at the start, Oliphant was getting set to challenge for the top three when an engine failure cruelly ended his race just five laps in.
For Ollie Jackson it was a first race outing at Thruxton in the Ginetta Supercup, though with years of racing around the high-speed Hampshire circuit under his belt the former BTCC racer was confident of challenging for top six results.
That mission was accomplished in qualifying, Ollie taking sixth on the grid for the opening race, narrowly missing out on fifth by just seven hundredths of a second. A fantastic start to race one saw him take that spot with a slick move around the outside into the complex, however an issue with his gear change hampered his charge a lap later.
After a trip to the pits for a quick fix of the problem, Jackson returned to the track a man on a mission and showed top six pace throughout as he fought from dead last to eleventh at the finish. That was a result he was able to build on in race two, showing brilliant racecraft to battle to eighth with two laps to go, however bad luck struck him again with fuel pump issues dropping him to tenth.
In the final race, Ollie was in the thick of a fantastic four car battle for fifth place. After switching places with his rivals numerous times during an action-packed race, a last lap move secured him seventh at the flag – however with a driver having previously passed him under the safety car, that became a third top six finish of the campaign.
Osamu Kawashima meanwhile was making his first race outing at the fastest race circuit in the UK, a challenge he took on in style. The weekend started in sensational style as he finished over one and a half seconds clear of his closest competitor in qualifying to take his first AM class pole position.
With a grid penalty carrying over from Donington he started the opening race fourth in class on the grid, but a superb opening lap saw him quickly re-assume the class lead – an advantage he held for the whole race to take a second class win of the campaign by over six seconds.
Osamu slipped to second at the start of race two, however he comfortably maintained that position for the remainder of the race for another podium finish. That proved to be the case again in race three, with him holding second throughout to make it seven class podiums in nine races this year.
Tom’s podium finish in race two has helped him maintain a top four championship standing despite his race three disappointment, with Ollie cementing seventh in the points with his two top ten finishes. Osamu meanwhile has pulled 34 points clear of his closest rival in second in the AM class.
Tom Oliphant – #15:
“Qualifying didn’t quite go our way, which meant that race one was difficult. I was able to cement fourth place through the race, and we made some changes to the car for race two which made a really positive impact. We went quicker on colder tyres and were a lot more competitive with the front-runners, managing to take third and keep pace with the two ahead on new tyres.”
“We went into race three knowing we had the new tyres and that those around us didn’t, so while we were unlucky at the start we knew we could push for a podium finish through the race until the engine failed, which is something out of our hands. It’s a real shame as it’s cost us third in the championship, but we’ll go again at Oulton Park.”
Ollie Jackson – #48:
“Luck seemed to be against me this weekend, which continues Thruxton being a bit of a bogey circuit for me, but generally I’m really happy with how the meeting has gone, the change of car has made a massive difference for me.”
“I’m now right in the ballpark with the guys battling for the top six, I was able to go out there this weekend, enjoy some great racing and fight back after some issues to get a couple of top ten finishes. I’m really looking forward to the rest of the season now.”
Osamu Kawashima – #11:
“I’m really, really happy with the weekend. The last races at Brands Hatch and Donington Park were sad races for me as I didn’t get podiums, so to get three podiums in three races this weekend is the first time for me.”
“I got my second win in the first race, which I’m really happy for. We need to keep going into the next race at Oulton Park, keep pushing and improving my speed. Thank you to Century Motorsport for this weekend.”
Nathan Freke – Team Principal, Century Motorsport:
“Overall it’s been another strong weekend for our Ginetta GT4 Supercup team. All three drivers showed really good pace over the weekend. Tom and Osamu enjoyed further podium success and its great to see Ollie really settle into the championship now, which I’m certain will be key to him securing his first podium very soon.”