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Oliphant Dominates and Smith Takes First Win In Croft GT4 Duel

Oliphant Dominates and Smith Takes First Win In Croft GT4 Duel

Tom Oliphant was the man of the moment in North Yorkshire as two wins from two and a storming drive from the back of the pack into third place marked him as one to watch at the halfway point of the Michelin Ginetta GT4 SuperCup.

As the first person to take away HHC Motorsport’s qualifying dominance, Oliphant secured pole position by almost a second over JHR Developments-run Michael Caine in his Amigos Tequila Flavoured Beer car.

A storming start to the opening race saw Caine take the lead into turn one, shuffling Oliphant down to second, whilst Will Burns – who started third – dropped well down the order, promoting teammate Jamie Orton into third, whilst Ollie Jackson jumped from sixth to fourth.

Stealing the limelight for the opener however, was championship leader Carl Breeze, who moved from last on the grid to fifth overall over the course of the opening lap, before he took fourth from Jackson on the second tour and began to close in on the top four.

Enjoying his best qualifying result of the year with fifth on the grid, Tom Wrigley dropped a position on the start, but enjoyed his strongest race so far this year to take sixth at the flag, ahead of Burns and Reece Somerfield, the latter of whom started in the pit lane.

Race two saw Oliphant get a better start as he held onto the lead into the first corner, keeping his rival Caine tucked in behind whilst Breeze, Jackson and Somerfield completed the top five. Contact for Burns on the first lap saw him retire into the pit lane.

With Oliphant up the road, Caine, Orton and Breeze ran nose to tail for the best of the rest, until an ambitious move by Orton to pass Caine at the final hairpin at the end of lap three saw Orton push the Amigos car into a spin, demoting him to eighth place.

Caine then found himself at the head of the battle between Wrigley, Somerfield and Hale, of which Somerfield was the early leader, until a charging Wrigley came through to pass the pair to continue his run of top results, taking his first top four finish.

A photo finish for third place saw Jackson reel in Breeze on the final two laps, with the former almost snatching the position from the championship leader numerous times over the final tour, but despite a drag race to the line, Breeze just managed to keep his nose out front.

Following the race, Orton received a 27 second penalty for his overzealous move on Caine, putting him behind the former GT racer on the timesheets, thus promoting Breeze to second and Jackson to third – his best result of the season.

Starting from pole position for the reverse draw race, Caine lost the lead to Somerfield off the line, whilst Wrigley, Jackson and Smith hunted down the pack. A brief issue for Oliphant dropped him from sixth to the very back of the grid, whilst his championship rival Breeze retired at the end of lap one.

On a power charge, Bradley Smith passed Jackson and Wrigley to move into third, before going around the outside of Caine at the Complex one lap later. With Somerfield five seconds up the road, a win seemed a little too much to ask, but a storming drive from the BRDC Rising Star saw him reel in the Brands Hatch race winner to claim the lead on lap 11, where he remained to the flag.

Elsewhere, there was a fantastic race over third, with Wrigley forced to drive a wide car to keep Burns behind whilst still attacking Caine. A spin for Jackson and a retirement for Burns – both on lap 10 – took the pressure off, but not before Oliphant swept into the final podium spot. Behind, Orton and Wrigley both made a move on Caine on the penultimate lap to take fourth and fifth at the flag.

In the AM class, Osamu Kawashima took three wins from three which promoted him to the top of the championship standings, helped – in part – by the absence of former leader Colin White from the meeting. Fraser Robertson took a hat trick of second places, whilst Chris Ingram only attended the Saturday event, picking up a third place for his efforts.

The drivers now enjoy a summer break before the next gathering at Snetterton in six weeks’ time, where the second half of the Michelin Ginetta GT4 SuperCup will kick into high gear. Provisional points and standings going into the break are as follows;

PRO

1 BREEZE, Carl 390

2 ORTON, Jamie 368

3 OLIPHANT, Tom 354

4 CAINE, Michael 299

5 BURNS, Will 265

6 SOMERFIELD, Reece 264

7 JACKSON, Ollie 238

8 WRIGLEY, Tom 199

9 SMITH, Bradley 180

10 HALE, Mitchell 124

 

AM

1 KAWASHIMA, Osamu 356

2 WHITE, Colin 350

3 ROBERTSON, Fraser 269

4 INGRAM, Chris 172

5 WHITE, Keith 70

6 ROBERTS, Richard 68

7 BARWICK, Ade 67

8 FINN, Connaire 53

9 MONAHON, Paul 0