Oliphant shows potential at opening BTCC weekend

Credit: Jakob Ebrey Photography

As one of four newcomers to the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship grid in 2018, Ciceley Motorsport driver Tom Oliphant showed flashes of promise at his first weekend in the series where he fought on the fringes of point scoring finishes.

The driver of the green Mercedes A-Class qualified in fifteenth position at Brands Hatch only a tenth of a second off his team-mate Adam Morgan who is a proven winner in the BTCC.

The first race had its typical dramas but Tom had driven well to be within some great battles. However, in the closing stages he had slipped back outside of the points to finish sixteenth but in terms of his first race he did finish ahead of quite a few former BTCC race winners.

Race two did see the heights of eighth position but the crazy conditions saw haphazard driving around him. A collision with another driver broke the suspension of the Mercedes and Tom had to retire from the race because the damage was too great.

The final race started off with the car having to be brought in for repairs during the green flag lap therefore he had to start the race from the pitlane. Despite this, Tom managed to climb eleven places and finish twentieth overall. If it wasn’t for more incredibly defensive driving he could have gone up even more.

The lessons learnt about the car and racecraft in the series gives Tom confidence going into the rest of the championship, he will undoubtedly be looking for points when the BTCC goes to Donington Park on 28/29 April.

Speaking about his overall impression of his first BTCC weekend. Tom said, “I’ve had an absolute blast this weekend, I think it’s the most fun I’ve had in a race car for a long time.

“Every lap of every race I was battling for position and I certainly got into the touring car spirit as I gained a lot of positions over the course of the three races.”

Also he is now wary of his rivals, “I’m a bit disappointed in the third race too as I felt like I had the pace to move further forwards, but it was still a strong result coming through from a pitlane start.

“I certainly understand the characters in the championship now, those who I can race fairly with and those I can’t.”