Tom Oliphant test drives Mercedes ahead of BTCC debut - pic by Jakob Ebrey Photography

Tarporley racing driver Tom Oliphant celebrated his first top ten and Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship points with a fine performance at Donington Park.

Oliphant’s impressive pace and race craft was rewarded with a best finish of ninth place in the second meeting of the season in Leicestershire.

Despite difficult pre-season tests at Donington, he produced a strong performance in free practice sessions and then out-qualified his experienced team-mate Adam Morgan with his fastest lap time of the day; a 1m 20.520s, placing him tenth fastest overall.

In front of 20,000 fans on Sunday, Oliphant endured a tough start and slipped down to 17th place, but immediately steadied himself and made progress up the order towards the top ten.

He picked his way through the midfield battles during a typically frenetic BTCC encounter, and climbed to a brilliant ninth position at the chequered flag.

The 27-year-old lined up eighth on the grid for the second race, but his chances of a repeat performance were hampered on a slower hard option Dunlop tyre.

He moved up to seventh on the opening lap, and put in a battling display to finish 12th and earn more championship points.

In race three, the Cheshire-born racer had his sights firmly set on a return to the top ten.

However, his hopes would be dashed as he got caught up in a multi-car incident at the Old Hairpin on the opening lap.

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 ensured he re-joined the back of the field in 27th position.

He moved from there into the top 20 in four racing laps and found himself battling for the final points position of 15th on the final lap, but was sent spinning back to P22.

Oliphant remains in positive spirits as he looks ahead to the next three races on May 19-20 at Thruxton.

Tom Oliphant with new Mercedes and livery at Donington - pic by Jakob Ebrey Photography

He said: “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 which I’ve really enjoyed.

“I was apprehensive coming into the meeting as winter testing around here and the media day test hadn’t been my strongest.

“But we were quick from the off on Saturday which was great and we settled into a really good rhythm, which led to a great qualifying session.

“We got really unlucky on the first lap in the opening race, but I fought my way back up and it was certainly a tough but enjoyable race.

“The second one was a case of holding on with the hard tyre, and I was pleased to be one of the quickest on that compound.

“I knew starting 12th for race three, with no weight and the medium tyre, that we had a great chance of a big result, so it was a real shame to not only get caught up in the first lap incident, but to also get fired off on the last lap after a good comeback.

“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.

“Thruxton should suit the Mercedes, but it’s probably going to be the hardest track for me.

“I haven’t raced there since 2015 and it’s going to be a different challenge in a front-wheel drive car.

“We’ll see how it plays out though and if I can get a couple of points finishes then I’ll be happy.”

Watch highlights of the three races here

(Pics from Jakob Ebrey Photography)


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