Ciceley Motorsport's Tom Oliphant has set the early pace at Silverstone after topping the opening British Touring Car Championship practice ahead of Mike Bushell.

Arriving into the penultimate weekend of the 2018 season, Oliphant sits 23rd in the drivers' standings but has emerged from FP1 quickest of all after setting a 58.474s lap around the National configuration of the Silverstone circuit.

Oliphant set his best lap early in the 40-minute practice, as the Volkswagen CC of Bushell slotted in behind the Mercedes with a 58.516s effort.

“I’m really pleased with that. It might only be free practice, but to top the timesheets for the first time in my BTCC career is a brilliant feeling," said Oliphant.

"It’s another new circuit for me in front-wheel drive machinery, but the Ciceley Motorsport Mercedes was superb and I got into a good rhythm from the off. We’ve got a great base to build on for the weekend ahead.”

Looking for an upturn in fortunes, Rob Austin set the third fastest time aboard his Alfa Romeo Giulietta, little over 0.1s off Oliphant's time topping effort.

BMW Pirtek Racing's Andrew Jordan was the leading RWD runner in fourth, just 0.002s slower Austin's Giulietta in third.

Jordan currently sits fourth in the drivers' standings, just eight-points shy of reigning champion Ashley Sutton, who is third.

WIX Racing's Brett Smith completed the top-five FP1 order ahead of his fellow Honda Civic Type-R runners, Jack Goff and Dan Cammish, who followed up in sixth and seventh.

Former two-time champion Jason Plato begun his weekend in strong fashion as the fastest Subaru runner with the eighth fastest effort, while Josh Cook and Aiden Moffat completed the remainder of the top-ten in ninth and tenth.

Speedworks Motorsport's Tom Ingram proved the fastest of the leading championship contenders in 12th, while Ashley Sutton and Colin Turkington ended early running in 17th and 20th, respectively.

Team BMW's Turkington currently enjoys a 43-point lead over Ingram in second position.