Oliphant 1 - Jakob Ebrey Photography

Tarporley racing driver Tom Oliphant narrowly missed out on a points finish during a “positive” first weekend in the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship.

Oliphant fought on the fringes of the top ten during the opening rounds at Brands Hatch on Sunday.

His debut saw him race in front of a bumper crowd at the Kent circuit in his Ciceley Motorsport Mercedes A-Class, with all three races live on ITV4.

His maiden outing proved a “baptism of fire” as he fought it out against one of the most talented grids in recent championship history.

In the first practice session, the top 30 cars were separated by less than a second, with Oliphant finishing an impressive 15th.

The 27-year-old faced tricky wet conditions for his first BTCC race, but he adapted well to get himself right into the thick of the battle, finishing in 16th place.

Oliphant followed that with a sensational drive up the order in race two as he battling in the top ten and fought his way through to a high of eighth position.

But it ended in disappointment when contact from a rival led to a broken suspension and an early retirement.

It meant he faced an uphill battle in race three as he took to the grid in 31st position.

Oliphant 3 - Jakob Ebrey Photography

A small mechanical issue on the green flag lap meant a pits stop for a quick repair and therefore start the race from the pitlane, but an almost immediate safety car period ensured he got onto the back of the pack.

From there, Oliphant produced another superb performance as he gained 11 positions to slot into 20th place.

So he comes away from the weekend in positive spirits ahead of a visit to one of his favourite circuits, Donington Park, for Rounds Four, Five and Six on April 28-29.

Oliphant said: “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.

“It was a steep learning curve, especially with my first race coming in the wet which I feel I did well in.

“We went for the safe option with tyres in changing conditions in race two and started really strongly, but sadly it wasn’t to be in the end.

“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.

“Overall, it’s been a great weekend both on and off track.

“The BTCC is a huge spectacle and you’re kept busy as a driver meeting the fans and entertaining hospitality guests and sponsors, but I loved every second and I can’t wait for Donington Park.”

(pics by Jakob Ebrey Photography)

Oliphant 2 - Jakob Ebrey Photography

Tom Oliphant meets the fans

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