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Oliphant wins for Century Motorsport at Donington Park

Century Motorsport Ginetta GT4 Supercup drivers Jamie Orton and Tom Oliphant moved to Donington Park looking to build on the podium finishes they earned at Brands hatch some two weeks ago. Jamie Orton was quick to show his intentions right from the start by placing his Ginetta G55 on the front row of the grid in second spot a mere 0.031 seconds off pole position for race one while Tom Oliphant managed ninth place after a difficult session plagued with red flags.

A poor start from Jamie in race one dropped him down the order initially to fourth place before a second lap trip on the grass dropped him further down to the rear of the field. Tom Oliphant was lapping consistently and by lap four he had managed to climb to eighth place where he would remain until the chequered flag. Jamie continued with his recovery drive making it back up to eleventh when the flag fell.

The finishing positions of the previous days race determined the starting order for a very wet race two on Sunday morning. Tom Oliphant pulled into the eighth place grid slot while Jamie Orton lined up eleventh. A first lap incident brought out the safety car and allowed all drivers to get a feel for the wet conditions. The Safety car pulled off at the end of lap three and immediately Tom and Jamie moved up to ninth and tenth respectively. With everyone struggling in the wet conditions, positions were constantly shuffling but by lap seven the two Century Motorsport cars were running nose to tail before Oliphant spun while challenging Orton for eighth place. Jamie continued his charge through the pack before a move on Harry Woodhead for sixth at Coppice would see him forced out over the gravel. Tom was now the man on a charge though and found his way past Woodhead and Hyton over the course of the next few laps before finding himself in a drag race to the line with David Pittard out of the final chicane on the last lap. Tom snatched fifth place by 0.018 seconds with Jamie in tenth place to snatch some points after an action packed race.

Race three starting positions were elected by reversing the top six drivers from race two’s finishing order, meaning Tom Oliphant would line up on the front row in second position with Jamie Orton in tenth. All drivers made their way to the grid on wet tyres but the team made a call just before the start to pull Tom and Jamie into the pits and change to slicks. Along with the majority of the field, both cars started the race from the pitlane behind the five cars that elected to stay on the grid and stay on their wet tyres. Once the slicks were up to temperature, the lap times began to tumble and Jamie Orton held the fastest lap of the race initially. A lap later however would see Tom Oliphant move past Jamie and lead the pack of cars that had chosen the dry tyre option. Tom set about catching the group of struggling cars ahead at around four seconds a lap and before long he started making his way past them with Jamie following close behind.  On lap seven Tom took the lead from Andrew Watson and headed off into the lead. Jamie tried to follow suit but unfortunately got caught up in a battle with the struggling Watson and Robertson going down Craner Curves that resulted in a trip off on the grass dropping him to sixth place. Out in front, Oliphant opened up a gap of over three seconds and when the chasing Carl Breeze was handed a five second penalty for track limits, Tom managed to cruise home to take his first victory in the series with Jamie coming home in fourth after a some strong closing laps.

Tom Oliphant commented after his victory: “It’s been an up and down weekend. Qualifying didn’t go that well and race one was difficult but we finished eighth. Race two in the wet was really positive, dropped back to eleventh but got back up to fifth, I raced really well. For the final race we started from the pitlane and carved through on slicks and managed to keep it nice and tidy to get my first win, I’m over the moon. I can’t quite believe it but I’m sure it will sink in soon!”

Jamie Orton reflected on his weekend: “We had a good start to the weekend, practice was good and qualifying was very pleasing to be so close to pole. Makes you wonder what could have been had I actually been in pole position rather than second as we went from second to last in the first race and quite similar in the second race which was a bit of a disaster. The third race was just an unlucky set up call, we could have probably won that race but it was just a bit of guess work as we didn’t have much time to make the change before the start of the race.”

Nathan Freke commented on the team’s best result of the year so far: “Due to the safety cars in the touring car race, we didn’t think they had dried the track up much and we thought that wets were the sensible option. But as soon as I got onto the start line I could see it was going to be slicks. Both cars pulled up on the grid, but we had to get clearance to push Jamies car back to the pits to change him to slicks. Then we did the same with Tom so it was a bit of a frantic fifteen minutes really but everyone did a really good job getting the tyres swapped over so quickly getting him out in front of the cars around us. It was great that Tom won it and Jamie finishing in fourth.”