Oliphant enjoys his strongest raceday of the season at Croft

Tom Oliphant heads into a corner at Croft. Picture: Jakob Ebrey Photography
Tom Oliphant heads into a corner at Croft. Picture: Jakob Ebrey Photography

Tom Oliphant brought the first half of his maiden Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship (BTCC) campaign to a close on a high as he secured a pair of points finishes at Croft.

Oliphant enjoyed his strongest raceday of the season in North Yorkshire, with a hat-trick of top-16 finishes in front of the live ITV4 cameras.

The 27-year-old headed into the opening race of the weekend hoping to challenge for points under the glorious Yorkshire sunshine and a strong start saw him maintain his 18th place heading into an early safety car stoppage.

Once the action resumed, a sensational move around the outside of Mike Bushell through the Complex netted him 17th place, before he picked off former Porsche Carrera Cup GB sparring rival Dan Cammish into Tower Bend.

Oliphant would go on to heap pressure on Tom Chilton during the closing laps of the race as he looked to secure the final points-paying position. However, despite excelling around the high-speed sections of the circuit he was unable to find a way past.

With the option hard compound Dunlop tyres underneath him, a brilliant start saw him rise two places on the opening lap of race two, before moving up to 13th soon after.

Getting right in the thick of the midfield action, Oliphant would produce a fantastic defensive display in the final couple of laps to hold off two-time BTCC champion Jason Plato and take 13th at the finish.

The Leamington driver would make some more early progress in the final race of the day, with some superb overtaking moves helping him pick his way through to tenth place by the end of lap four.

From there, a composed drive saw him maintain position through to the chequered flag, ensuring he would end the day having finished as the highest placed Ciceley Motorsport Mercedes in each of the three races.

Unfortunately, post-race, the stewards deemed him to have gained an unfair advantage during the race and he was handed a 9.5 second time penalty, demoting him to 14th.

Oliphant said: “While the penalty in the final race is immensely frustrating, it has otherwise been another really positive weekend, with our strongest trio of race results so far this season showing the continued progress we’re making in my first season in the series.

“We headed into the weekend knowing that our car was going to struggle up against the rear-wheel drive machinery but we put together a strong package and I was able to work my way up the order over the course of the three races.

“I enjoyed some really good, clean battles out on track and it was great to be able to bring the car home in pristine condition after each race. Three more full races under my belt is crucial experience that will only serve me well heading into the second half of the year.”