Tom Oliphant has written 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 win and a second-placed finish in Bahrain, last weekend the Tarporley racer superbly replicated those results to take the championship lead for the first time heading into the series’ festive break.
Oliphant headed back 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.
And 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, in which he would finish second.
With new tyres on his Lechner Racing machine for day two, Oliphant fully showcased his true pace.
He stormed to the top of the timesheets in free practice before a repeat performance in qualifying earned him a superb first pole position in the series by four tenths of a second.
And it was a position that Oliphant never surrendered despite suffering tyre wear late on in the race that allowed Al Faisal Al Zubair to close onto his tail.
Oliphant said: “It’s a real honour to have won the 100th race in the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East. The championship has a brilliant history and I’m really pleased to enjoy that landmark moment and take the championship lead for the first time.
“It was tough on Friday on older tyres for the race, so I was delighted to come away with a second place. We could show our true pace on Saturday, though, and to convert a first pole position in the series into a lights-to-flag win was really special.
“I got a really good start to the race and managed to stay ahead into turn one. I knew the first few laps would be difficult, but I was able to start to pull a gap in front.
“There was some pressure at the end as my tyres started to wear, but I was able to defend my position and cross the line in first.
“I don’t think I’ll ever get over how it feels to stand on the top step of the podium and hear your national anthem being played.
“It’s certainly a moment I want to experience again and we aim to recharge over the festive break and come back even stronger in Dubai in January.”
Oliphant holds a six-point lead at the top of the standings ahead of the championship’s return to Dubai for rounds five and six on January 26/27.