8 race wins. 21 podiums. 26 top four finishes. 4 pole positions. 1 championship title.
Those are the numbers that matter when we look back at Tom Oliphant’s success in the 2015 Michelin Ginetta GT4 Supercup, as the Century Motorsport ace emerged victorious from a titanic duel for the title with Supercup stalwart Carl Breeze.
The stand-out statistic is the 26 top four finishes over the course of the 27 race season, a level of consistency never seen before in the Supercup, with just an engine failure at Thruxton denying Oliphant and the Century team a perfect title-winning season.
It was far from plain-sailing for them though, with HHC Motorsport’s trio of Breeze, Jamie Orton and Will Burns right in the thick of the front-running action throughout the season, particularly during a dominant start to the season.
The Yorkshire outfit got the jump on their rivals initially, taking eight of the first eleven wins and locking out the top three in three of the first four qualifying sessions, with Breeze and Orton emerging as title contenders.
It was in the middle of the season that Oliphant and Century came into their own though, with double victories in three consecutive meetings at Croft, Snetterton and Knockhill putting them in the driving seat in the title hunt.
Breeze hit back with a double win of his own at Rockingham, a weekend in which Orton’s challenge ended as he missed the two races, setting it up for a two-way battle for the honours in the closing meetings.
A win at Silverstone swung the momentum back firmly in Oliphant’s favour though, meaning a top four hat-trick at the Brands Hatch season finale secured him a maiden title, with his dominance highlighted by a run of seventeen consecutive podium finishes across the campaign.
The win marked Century’s first Ginetta one-make drivers title since team boss Nathan Freke’s G50 Cup success in 2009, but the Warwickshire-based team lost out in the Teams Championship after HHC overcame a 17 point deficit in the season finale to secure the title for the first time.
For Breeze, the season marked a fifth consecutive Supercup top three points finish and his third vice-champions honours, but having led more races and laps than anyone else, he’s left to rue mid-season mechanical failures at Croft and Snetterton that he feels were key to losing the title.
Orton meanwhile brought his spell in a championship to an end with his most competitive campaign yet. His run of nine podiums in the first twelve races put him right in the title mix, and while it slipped away as the season wore on, he had certainly turned heads with his five wins.
Burns joined his team-mate in stepping up a level this season, becoming a regular fixture at the head of the field with eleven podium finishes. All that was missing for the 25 year old was a maiden Supercup win, but he couldn’t have come closer at Thruxton, leading every lap until the final one.
The man who stole the Thruxton win was Michael Caine, a rare highlight in a surprisingly tough first season for the JHR Developments ace. He ended the year on a high though with a podium hat-trick at Brands Hatch to finish in the championship top four despite missing two meetings through injury.
Outside the top five, an extremely close battle for the final position in the championship top six eventually saw Tom Wrigley, Reece Somerfield and Ollie Jackson split by just two points after 27 hard-fought races.
Wrigley was a consistent top ten finisher from the off, but it was following an enforced mid-season link-up with Rob Boston Racing that his season came alive, with superb reverse grid wins at Snetterton and Knockhill plus pole position at Silverstone helping him to sixth overall.
That came in a positive campaign with the team, with a late entry from Clio Cup convert Jordan Stilp producing a podium finish on his debut at Silverstone, while team boss Boston had taken a top six finish himself during a one-off outing at Donington Park.
Somerfield meanwhile produced one of the shock results of the season when he stormed to a maiden win in the reverse grid race on the opening weekend. The privateer backed it up with another trip to the podium at Croft as part of a strong, consistent fourth campaign in the series.
Resigned to eighth in the standings therefore was former BTCC racer Jackson. Embarking on his first Ginetta season with Century Motorsport, Jackson secured the most top six finishes of any driver outside the top five, but would only make one podium breakthrough with a third place at Croft.
The final regular Pro driver in the standings meanwhile was Bradley Smith, following a tough Supercup induction with Mectech Motorsport. Frequent mechanical problems hampered his challenge throughout the year, but he showcased his raw pace with a superb maiden win at Croft.
In total, an incredible 41 different drivers took part in the championship over the course of the season, with a lot of new G55’s joining the grid during a late surge of entries in the final two weekends of the year.
Amongst those joining the action were 2014 vice-champion David Pittard, former race-winner Stefan Hodgetts, Ginetta GT5 Challenge graduate Ryan Hadfield, 2015 British GT4 champion Mike Robinson and returning star Carl Boardley, the latter starring at Brands Hatch GP with a second place finish.
Earlier in the year, a much publicised entry from ex-BTCC driver Jack Clarke was over just three races in, with Bradley Ellis, Stephen Young and Mitchell Hale also running with SV Racing at points before the 2014 front-running outfit made an early exit from the series.
Fifteen different drivers competed in the new-for-2015 AM class meanwhile, though only four completed more than four race weekends, Colin White, Osamu Kawashima, Fraser Robertson and Chris Ingram.
It proved to be a one-horse championship race though, with White using his six years of Ginetta racing experience to full effect. Finishing off the podium just twice in the 22 races he competed in, the CWS Racing ace sealed a dominant title success with fourteen class wins.
His closest competitor proved to be Japanese racer Kawashima, who showed strong improvement throughout his maiden Supercup campaign with Century Motorsport, carding five class wins of his own including a hat-trick at Croft.
Privateer Robertson was a regular podium finisher through the campaign, taking a long-awaited first win at Rockingham, whilst Douglas Motorsport’s Ingram secured a best finish of second place at Croft.
Of the additional entrants through the year, British GT regulars Ade Barwick and Will Moore both took class wins at Snetterton, Barwick also winning at Oulton Park. Connaire Finn was a victor at Rockingham and Silverstone, with Graham Johnson also tasting victory in the penultimate meeting.
Despite so many different drivers competing, entry numbers were a concern through the year with a low of eleven at Knockhill and just seven drivers competing in at least one race at each meeting, though there a rapid rise to a record 27 car grid at the Brands Hatch finale.
That boost in numbers and the prospective returns of a number of front-running drivers hints at a positive 2016 for the Supercup, as the championship’s prestige continues to rise following the success of former champions Adam Morgan and Tom Ingram in the BTCC, and 2015 ELMS LMP3 victor Charlie Robertson.