Team BMW’s Tom Oliphant took a hugely impressive victory in the opening Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship race at Brands Hatch, having made a stellar getaway from the second row of the grid before going on to fend off three-time champion Gordon Shedden.
Halfords Racing with Cataclean’s front-row lockout immediately unravelled as pole-sitter Daniel Rowbottom bogged down off the line, while Oliphant was storming through to P1.
MB Motorport accelerated by Blue Square’s Jake Hill was slightly held up by the sluggish starting Honda Civic Type R of Rowbottom, as was Shedden, with Laser Tools Racing’s Aiden Moffat scampering through into second.
Shedden and Moffat made slight contact on lap five with the former grabbing the position through Druids, which also allowed Hill and the recovering Rowbottom to get by the Laser Tools-backed Infiniti.
Moffat was further shuffled down the order late on as the battle for the lead built towards a tense climax.
Shedden produced the fastest lap of the race as he began reeling in Oliphant’s BMW 3-Series, but it proved too little too late as the #15 car held on, despite being bulked by a back-marker on the final lap.
It was a richly deserved victory for Oliphant, the second of his BTCC career so far.
“I’ve had terrible luck this year,” said Oliphant. “We’ve had some great pace and I’ve loved driving the car, but I didn’t expect to win this one. I just got such a good start and then the first five laps I was in quali mode. I got the gap and just managed the tyres.
“I was just trying to control the race and not make any mistakes. Gordon [Shedden] is a very experienced racing driver and as soon as he got past and into second I knew I was going to have to work for it in the end.
“The last two corners weren’t enjoyable, I honestly didn’t know what was going to happen. I couldn’t put myself at risk trying to overtake [Rick Parfitt] on the outside so I think as soon as he noticed I was right with him, he did move out of the way and it didn’t cost me a win so that’s absolutely fine.
“But having Gordon hunting you down for 24 laps is nerve-wracking enough! I’m just over the moon. The car’s been brilliant all weekend so I’m really pleased to bring it home for my car crew and my engineers who did an amazing job.”
The Team Dynamics duo completed the rostrum with Rowbottom securing his first ever podium in the BTCC after his battling drive back through the order.
“I’m disappointed in a way not to win,” confirmed Shedden. “We lost so much time to Tom in the first three laps, until I managed to get past Aiden [Moffat], and then I could see him in the distance but he didn’t make any mistakes.
“We all wondered about what the weather was going to do, but my car was really, really good. I’m happy with it, just couldn’t get it going early enough to make hay while the sun shined. We’ll look forward to the next one and see if we can score some more points.”
“We definitely didn’t nail [the start] did we?” said Rowbottom. “I rang Matt [Neal] for some last-minute advice and he said, ‘don’t panic, just launch it like a road car’ – turns out that’s not the right thing to do! Or maybe I took it too literally. It was a bit pants if I’m honest, but after that I got my head down and ended P3 so, first podium, that will do!”
Home hero Hill was fourth, whilst Laser Tools Racing’s Ash Sutton completed his own eventful race to finish fifth.
The Ginsters EXCELR8 with TradePriceCars.com pairing of Tom Ingram and Chris Smiley were sixth and seventh respectively, ahead of Moffat, whilst BTC Racing’s Josh Cook and Team HARD. with Autobrite Direct’s Jack Goff rounded out the top ten.
2021 Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship – Race 1 – Brands Hatch Indy
1 Tom OLIPHANT (GBR) Team BMW 24 laps
2 Gordon SHEDDEN (GBR) Halfords Racing with Cataclean +0.188s
3 Daniel ROWBOTTOM (GBR) Halfords Racing with Cataclean +4.603s
4 Jake HILL (GBR) MB Motorsport accelerated by Blue Square +9.811s
5 Ashley SUTTON (GBR) Laser Tools Racing +10.007s
6 Tom INGRAM (GBR) Ginsters EXCELR8 with TradePriceCars.com +11.289s
7 Chris SMILEY (GBR) Ginsters EXCELR8 with TradePriceCars.com +11.633s
8 Aiden MOFFAT (GBR) Laser Tools Racing +11.938s
9 Josh COOK (GBR) BTC Racing +15.398s
10 Jack GOFF (GBR) Team HARD. with Autobrite Direct +15.720s
11 Daniel LLOYD (GBR) Adrian Flux with Power Maxed Racing +15.982s
12 Senna PROCTOR(GBR) BTC Racing +16.339s
13 Jason PLATO (GBR) Adrian Flux with Power Maxed Racing +17.510s
14 Stephen JELLEY (GBR) Team BMW +18.771s
15 Rory BUTCHER (GBR) Toyota Gazoo Racing UK +19.025s
16 Carl BOARDLEY (GBR) Laser Tools Racing +19.257s
17 Adam MORGAN (GBR) Car Gods with Ciceley Motorsport +22.713s
18 Árón TAYLOR-SMITH (IRL) Team HARD. with HUB Financial Solutions +23.051s
19 Tom CHILTON (GBR) Car Gods with Ciceley Motorsport +23.443s
20 Colin TURKINGTON (GBR) Team BMW +24.816s
21 Sam OSBORNE (GBR) Racing with Wera & Photon Group +24.883s
22 Jade EDWARDS (GBR) PHSC with BTC Racing +25.081s
23 Ollie JACKSON (GBR) MB Motorsport accelerated by Blue Square +27.159s
24 Sam SMELT (GBR) Toyota Gazoo Racing UK +28.500s
25 Jack BUTEL (GBR) EXCELR8 with TradePriceCars.com +28.720s
26 Andy NEATE (GBR) Racing with Wera & Photon Group +33.172s
27 Glynn GEDDIE (GBR) Team HARD. with Autobrite Direct +36.402s
28 Nicolas HAMILTON (GBR) ROKiT Racing with iQuoto Online Trading +37.808s
29 Rick PARFITT (GBR) EXCELR8 with TradePriceCars.com +1 lap