BMW driver Tom Oliphant took a dominant victory in the first of the British Touring Car Championship (BTCC) races at Brands Hatch – but was denied a double win after being passed by Hyundai’s Tom Ingram on the final lap of the second race.
Ingram’s win helped the ExcelR8 i30 N Fastback driver move within three points of championship leader Ash Sutton.
Cicely Motorsport’s Adam Morgan also took a victory in Kent – his first win since the team switched to running a BMW 330i M Sport.
Here are the key takeaways from the weekend.
Oliphant denied double at last-gasp
Oliphant put in a masterful drive in the opening race, taking the lead from pole sitter Daniel Rowbottom (Honda Civic Type R) at the start and building up a big lead. Once he had battled up to second triple champion Gordon Shedden (Civic Type R) did eat into Oliphant’s lead, but the WSR BMW withstood the pressure and controlled the gap to the finish.
With full ballast on board for race two, Oliphant was always going to face a tough task scoring a double, but he came agonisingly close. The BMW man again built an early edge while his rivals battled, and this time it was Ingram who began to pile the pressure on once moving into second.
It looked like Oliphant had just enough in hand, but on the final lap, Ingram got close enough to haver a look down the inside into Paddock Hill Bend, and light contact between the two pushed Oliphant wide. Ingram claimed the lead, while Oliphant was then pipped to the line in drag race with Infiniti Q50 racer Sutton.
Sutton’s racks up the points
That second place for Sutton followed a solid fifth place in the opening race, and the reigning champion added a seventh in race three.
While Sutton didn’t look like a contender for victory at any point during the weekend, three strong finishes gave his title bid a considerable boost, especially with Ingram able to muster only 12th in the final race.
Sutton also benefitted from an unusually disappointing weekend for his perennial title rival Colin Turkington. The four-time champion was never happy with the set-up of his BMW and qualified well down the order. He was unable to make any progress in the three races and has dropped to fourth in the title race, 39 points adrift of Sutton.
Morgan’s Munich move pays off
Morgan’s victory in the reverse grid final race was the ninth of his BTCC career, but the first since Ciceley switched from a Mercedes-Benz A-Class to the BMW. There was a fresh look to the top three, with Jack Goff taking second to secure the first BTCC podium for the Teah Hard Cupra Leon.