Tarporley racer Tom Oliphant enjoyed a breakthrough meeting in the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship at Donington Park at the weekend as he secured a superb maiden top ten result as part of his first two points finishes in the series.
After narrowly missing out on a points finish during a promising BTCC debut three weeks ago at Brands Hatch, Oliphant’s impressive pace and racecraft was rewarded with a best finish of ninth place during the second meeting of the season in Leicestershire.
Oliphant showed his overtaking prowess in race one to climb from 17th to ninth at the chequered flag.
Buoyed by that success he sat eighth on the grid for race two and the 27-year-old moved up to seventh on the opening lap, but his chances of a repeat performance would be hampered by him running the slower hard option Dunlop tyre for the race.
Oliphant put in a battling display to keep himself in the mix for a top ten finish throughout the sixteen lap encounter, with a twelfth place finish and more championship points being his reward at the finish.
With the better tyre compound underneath him for race three, the Cheshire-born racer had his sights firmly set on a return to the top 10; however his hopes would be dashed as he got caught up in a multi-car incident at the Old Hairpin on the opening lap.
With nowhere to go as cars braked heavily in-front of him to avoid spinning cars towards the head of the pack, Oliphant made contact to the rear of the car ahead, leaving him with heavy damage to the front of his Mercedes that led to a trip to the pitlane.
Swift repairs from the Ciceley Motorsport team during a safety car period ensured he was able to re-join the back of the field in 27th position, which provided him with the opportunity to produce another fantastic recovery drive through the field.
Moving into the top twenty in just four racing laps after the restart, Oliphant would eventually find himself battling for the final points paying position of fifteenth on the final lap, however unnecessary contact from another driver would send him spinning back into 22nd position.
Oliphant said: “I’m really pleased with this weekend. We’ve reached some massive milestones with our first top ten and points finishes, and I’ve been out there racing wheel-to-wheel with some of the best drivers in the championship.
“It’s been a great weekend and I’m loving the BTCC. The racing is close, exciting and hard-fought, which is exactly what I wanted.
“It was never going to be easy, but we’ve got a quick car as my team-mates are proving, so I’m confident my time for a podium will come.”