Team BMW's Tom Oliphant kept his composure to hold off a charging Gordon Shedden to win the first British Touring Car Championship race of the day at Brands Hatch.

Oliphant qualified fourth the day's opening race, but made a tremendous start from the second row on the grid, which saw the BMW 330i M Sport driver move into the lead by turn one.

In contrast, first time pole-sitter Dan Rowbottom had a terrible start and dropped as low as seventh before recovering back up the order, while Team Dynamics Honda team mate Gordon Shedden gave chase to the race leading BMW of Oliphant.

Shedden also suffered a below par getaway and fell down to fifth during the early stages. But, by lap five, the former triple champion had worked his way back into second and began to chip away at Oliphant's near four-second lead.

Despite Shedden's rapid pace, Oliphant looked comfortable in the lead of the race and produced a series of consistent laps to maintain a relatively healthy advantage ahead of the Honda Civic Type-R runner.

However, as the race entered its final third, Shedden slashed what was left of Oliphant's race lead. Less than a second covered the pair as they entered the last lap, with Oliphant catching a backmarker in the shape of Rick Parfitt at a vast rate of knots.

Incredibly, Oliphant caught up with Parfitt at Surtees, which allowed Shedden to draw right to the rear bumper of Oliphant's BMW.

Oliphant eventually prevailed ahead of the three-time champion, but by less than 0.2s as the pair crossed the line.

Rowbottom produced a valiant recovery from seventh position to claim the last step on the podium in third, ahead of MB Motorsport's Jake Hill in fourth.

Ash Sutton strengthened his championship lead in fifth position after holding off Hyundai duo Tom Ingram and Chris Smiley in sixth and seventh.

Sutton's Laser Tools Racing team mate Aiden Moffat dropped back to an eighth place finish after running in second during the early stages of the race.

Josh Cook and Jack Goff completed the remainder of the top-ten order in ninth and tenth.

Elsewhere, title challenger Colin Turkington endured a miserable opening race in 21st. The four-time champion already had work to do from 14th on the grid before he was tipped into a spin by Sam Osborne on lap 15.