Tom Oliphant hit back in the Michelin Ginetta GT4 Supercup title fight with a lights-to-flag victory in the opening race of the weekend at Silverstone.
After seeing Carl Breeze close the gap with a double victory last time out at Rockingham, Oliphant converted a front row start into an eighth win of the campaign at Silverstone to extend his advantage again.
It was Tom Wrigley who had starred in qualifying to end Oliphant’s run of consecutive pole positions, but the championship leader hit back with a great launch to lead through Copse for the first time.
It would go from bad to worse for Wrigley soon after, as after slipping to fourth on the opening lap, contact from Will Burns whilst heading into Maggotts on lap two ended with him spinning into the gravel and out of the race, with Burns also forced into retirement.
It was Jamie Orton who had moved up to second on the first tour and his HHC Motorsport team-mate Breeze rose to third behind him, with the top three soon proving to be a class above as they pulled away from the field.
An early one second advantage proved to be key for Oliphant, as while all three traded fastest laps through the race – Oliphant ending up with a new lap record – the chasers never got within striking distance.
Oliphant eventually took the win by 0.382 seconds for his fourteenth consecutive Supercup podium finish, with Orton and Breeze close behind for their fourteenth and fifteenth respective podiums of the season so far.
“Honestly, we’ve been struggling a bit this weekend and heading into qualifying I really didn’t know if I’d be on the front row or down in seventh or eighth,” Oliphant told TCF.
“It was a difficult one to call, but the team have worked incredibly hard, we changed a lot on the car and it proves again that once we get the car to where we want it, we win.
“I knew the start would be an important one and we get a good start more often than not. It was a long wait on the red lights and I think that played into my advantage to get the jump off the line.
“They were defending behind which allowed me to pull a second gap and that meant I could manage the race from there. I was just focusing on maintaining the gap to a second and managing the tyres as it was a long race. It’s a great win and it puts in a good position for tomorrow.”
Ollie Jackson benefitted from the early drama to climb from seventh to fourth and held the spot for a long spell, however after passing Stefan Hodgetts at Copse on lap five, a charging Jordan Stilp closed him down and snatched the position on lap twenty to cap off an impressive debut race.
David Pittard passed Hodgetts at Copse in the second half of the race to take a top six finish on his return to the championship, with Hodgetts a clear seventh ahead of Reece Somerfield, who held off a late challenge from Callum Pointon.
Carl Boardley completed the top ten ahead of Bradley Smith, whose challenge was hampered by differential problems, while Connaire Finn took the AM class victory in twelfth overall despite being awarded a five second penalty for exceeding track limits.
Finn was aided by class pole sitter Graham Johnson retiring on the green flag lap with a mechanical problem, a fate that also seemed to befell fellow debutant Ryan Hadfield in his R&J Motorsport G55.
Nissan GT Academy winner Matthew Simmons took second in the AM class on his debut ahead of Colin White, with Osamu Kawashima emerging from a thrilling battle with Fraser Robertson fourth in class.
Chris Ingram completed the AM class entrants, while Tom Hibbert was the last of the Pro competitors in fifteenth overall.