Oliphant returned to the scene of his Supercup debut with the team twelve months ago sitting in the top five of the championship, though his preparations for the weekend were hampered by an illness that left him physically unable to take part in the second free practice session on Friday.
With the loss of running limiting the team’s set-up time on the Ginetta G55 GT4, damage limitation was the focus heading into qualifying and a great performance from Oliphant saw him post the sixth fastest time, his best lap of 1m 22.472s putting him within a quarter of a second of third.
After a night of rest left him feeling a bit better for race day, Oliphant headed into the opening race in a confident mood. A good start saw him move up to fifth through the first corner, however contact from rivals at Yentwood and then Tarzan left him down in ninth at the end of the lap.
From then on, Oliphant was a man on a mission and after gaining a couple of places in the next four laps, he quickly closed down a two second gap to the top six. A fantastic move around the outside at the Deene hairpin gave him sixth, a position he held to the finish to complete a strong recovery drive.
The second race of the weekend was to start in similar fashion to the opener, with contact from behind at Yentwood on the opening lap once again dropping Oliphant down the order, this time to seventh into an early safety car period.
Quickly gaining two places soon after the restart, Oliphant then came out on top of some doorhandle-to-doorhandle racing with David Pittard to move into fourth, putting a podium finish in his sights.
Oliphant hunted down 2012 Supercup champion Carl Breeze and following a close final lap, a fantastic run out of the last corner saw him grab the podium finish by just three hundredths of a second in a dead heat at the chequered flag – a result that consolidated his fifth place standing in the championship.
Tom Oliphant – #15 Ginetta G55 GT3
“It’s been an up and down weekend. I’ve been very ill and I’m still not 100%, but we’ve just had to keep going. The team have done a fantastic job, they gave me a very quick racecar and while we didn’t quite hook it up in qualifying, in both races we’ve come on strong in the second half.
“It’s a shame that in both races I got binned on the opening laps, but we were able to come back in both and I’m over the moon to get the podium finish to cap off the weekend.”
Nathan Freke – Team Principal, Century Motorsport
“Tom turned up on Friday and he’d been ill all week, so all things considered the first session went okay, but he was feeling dizzy and nauseous before the second session so we agreed he wasn’t safe to drive.
“That put us on the backfoot but qualifying went well, he was close to third and considering he still wasn’t feeling well, he did a stellar job. He was unfortunate on the first lap of the opening race, but it was a good drive up the order to sixth and for half of the race he was the quickest car on track.
“It was a similar situation in the second race, getting hit on the first lap through no fault of his own again. He was absolutely on fire from there though; he capitalised on a little bit of luck with the safety car bunching the field up and produced a great drive. Getting Breeze on the last corner was amazing and all the hard work has paid off this weekend.”