Oliphant wins landmark race in Dubai to roar to the top of the standings
Tom Oliphant wrote his name into the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East history books after taking victory in the championship's milestone 100th race at the Dubai Autodrome .
After launching the season in style with a race victory and a second place in Bahrain three weeks prior, Oliphant superbly replicated the results in Dubai to take the championship lead heading into the series’ festive break.
Oliphant returned to Dubai with a positive record around the 3.35 mile Autodrome circuit, having enjoyed a class victory in the 24 hour race there back in January last year and then a pair of podium finishes in his first Porsche Middle East campaign.
The 27-year-old was straight on the front-running pace on Friday, with a strong lap-time in the opening qualifying session placing his Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car in third position on the grid for the first race that afternoon, which he contested with older tyres than his fellow front-runners.
A strong start saw Oliphant produce a slick move on the opening lap to move up to second. However, from there it proved to be a relatively subdued affair for the Leamington racer as he held position throughout to take a top-two finish.
With new tyres on his Lechner Racing machine for day two, Oliphant would fully showcase his true pace as he stormed to the top of the timesheets in free practice before a repeat performance in qualifying earned him a first pole position of the series by four tenths of a second.
A great launch off the line ensured the Philips Automotive and Horizon Specialities-supported driver would maintain his advantage through a frenetic opening few corners before he started to stretch his legs and built a lead at the front of the pack.
The race would not be completely plain-sailing, however, as tyre wear in the closing stages allowed Al Faisal Al Zubair to close on to his tail but some impressive defensive driving on the final lap ensured Oliphant held him off to take the chequered flag for his second victory in three races.
Those successes mean he now holds a six-point lead atop the standings ahead of the championship’s return to Dubai for rounds five and six on the weekend of January 26/27.