Oliphant maintains his run of GT3 Cup podiums

Tom Oliphant in action in Abu Dhabi.

Tom Oliphant in action in Abu Dhabi.

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Tom Oliphant produced lightning pace on his first-ever visit to the Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi, equalling his best finish of second place in the latest rounds of the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East.

The opening race would prove a frustrating affair for the 2015 Michelin Ginetta GT4 Supercup champion as he dropped from fourth to seventh during a disappointing opening lap, though a strong recovery drive would eventually yield a fifth-placed finish.

With more important championship points in the bag, Oliphant headed into the second day of racing determined to earn more silverware and his chances were improved as he placed his Lechner Racing-run Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car third on the grid for the final encounter.

A great start to the race would see Oliphant storm into second position on the opening lap, though he unfortunately slipped back to third a couple of laps later, albeit with his 2016 Porsche Carrera Cup GB team-mate Charlie Eastwood having overtaken him off circuit.

As he pulled clear of the chasing pack behind, Oliphant looked on course to record a third-place finish until a drive through penalty and subsequent black flag for the new race leader Eastwood would promote him to second position with two laps to go.

With a near three-second gap to his season-long sparring rival Ryan Cullen ahead, the Leamington racer focused on bringing his car home safely in second to record a richly deserved fourth podium finish of the campaign.

The result kept Oliphant in touch with second place in the championship ahead of a return to Bahrain next month, with him returning to the scene of the opening two meetings of the season with a first win in the series firmly in his sights.

“The Yas Marina circuit really is a spectacular facility and I really enjoyed my time on track – it really separates the men from the boys,” said Oliphant.

“After showing great pace in practice, we had a difficult first day of racing and didn’t maximise our opportunities.

“The second day was totally different, though. We executed everything to the best of our ability and a second-place finish was truly deserved. “