Team BMW's Tom Oliphant has clinched his first ever British Touring Car Championship race victory after fending off Ash Sutton during a thrilling race three duel at Brands Hatch.

Since joining the BTCC back in 2018, Oliphant's previous best result came at Oulton Park last season, where he took second place during his first campaign with the Team BMW outfit.

Having started from sixth during the final reverse grid race of the day at Brands Hatch, the BMW 330i M Sport driver went one better after immediately jumping to third on the opening lap of the race, before moving into the lead at the end of the following lap.

With pole man Aiden Moffat and Stephen Jelley jostling for the lead, Oliphant took perfect advantage of the leading pair making contact at Clearways by driving clean around the outside of the Infiniti and BMW 1 Series at Clarke Curve, passing both cars in the process.

As the race materialised, it was the in-form Infiniti of Ash Sutton who became Oliphant's biggest threat for the race three honours. But the Team BMW driver drove a superb defensive race to keep the 2017 champion at bay.

A big rear-end slide coming out of Surtees on the final lap of the race almost gave Sutton the opportunity to pounce as the leading pair tackled the Grand Prix loop of the Brands Hatch circuit, but Oliphant prevailed by 0.3s as the pair crossed the line.

Team Parker Racing's Jelley took the final step on the podium in third after yet more agony for Motorbase Performance's Rory Butcher, who ran in third for much of the race.

Butcher's Ford Focus ST suffered yet another front-left puncture when the Scot was running in third, directly behind leaders Oliphant and Sutton.

The Ford driver's demise also promoted Laser Tools Racing's Moffat back up into fourth, insuring both Infiniti cars finished in the top four, while Team BMW's Colin Turkington strengthened his championship lead with a strong final race in fifth.

Honda's Matt Neal staged a magnificent recovery from what has been otherwise been a disastrous day to finish the final race in sixth after starting in 24th.

Having already achieved a best finish of tenth in race two, James Gornall moved further up the order to post a career best finish in seventh, while Tom Chilton, Senna Proctor and Sam Osborne completed the remainder of the top-ten in eighth, ninth and tenth.

 

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