Oliphant on his race-winning BMW: "There's still a lot to learn"
Team BMW driver Tom Oliphant secured his maiden win in the British Touring Car Championship this year at Brands Hatch and despite having driven the BMW 330i M Sport for two seasons, he admits that there is "still a lot to learn."
West Surrey Racing was founded in 1981 by New Zealander Dick Bennetts and first competed in the British Touring Car Championship in 1996. Since 2007, they have ran BMW cars and with the German manufacturer aligning themselves with the team in 2017, WSR has gone on become one of the most successful teams the series has seen.
When Tom Oliphant joined Team BMW in 2019, the team had switched to fielding three BMW 330i M Sports along with Four Time BTCC Champion Colin Turkington and 2013 Champion Andrew Jordan.
For 2020, with Jordan pulling out of the series due to the impact of COVID-19, Turkington and Oliphant piloted the two 330i M Sports for a second consecutive year. Turkington took five wins en route to second in the championship behind Ash Sutton as Oliphant secured his maiden win in the Reverse Grid race at Brands Hatch GP.
In an exclusive interview with Pitlane to Podium, Oliphant revealed why the 330i M Sport has been one of his favourite cars to drive in his career so far.
He said: "The 330i BMW Touring Car is just the best car I’ve ever driven. It's just so nice to drive and you can make set-up changes that it actually does what it should do on the tin whereas on other cars you make a set-up change and it has a negative impact and you just can’t rectify that whereas the BMW seems to have limitless potential."
"We’re still learning it as well and I mean that I’ve raced it for two years, we had Andrew, Colin and myself racing it and we’ve made such good progress but there’s still a lot to learn so I’m very excited about that."
"I definitely prefer the BMW as I’m a rear-wheel driver naturally so that was always going to go well."
Fellow racer, Motorbase Performance's Rory Butcher, who drove the new Ford Focus ST Mk 4 this season, also rated the BMW highly.
He said: "I think for me it’d probably be the BMW. It’s another car that you see that is very consistent with it’s qualifying and also being rear-wheel drive it's great. For me to go back into a rear-wheel drive I think it would probably feel quite natural and I would love the opportunity to have a go in a BMW."
Many drivers have yet to announce where they are racing next year and Oliphant is one of them drivers but he says he's more focused on getting a good break this winter.
He said: "Obviously I haven’t announced where I’m going to race next year so I don’t think anyone has announced really. Currently, I’m working on my deal which is trying to come back into Touring Cars next year and that is my aim but we'll will have to wait and see."
"I am looking forward to a break and I don’t really intend to start preparing for next year until January. I need a break from everything that we have done and if I don’t get it I’ll just burn out so I think that is very important."