GORDON SHEDDEN bagged a podium slot in the final race of the weekend as the British Touring Car Championship heads towards a climax.

The three-time title-winner, together with brother-in-law Rory Butcher, was in action at Croft, North Yorkshire, last weekend for rounds 19, 20 and 21 of the competition, seeking a good points haul in a bid to move closer to the championship pacesetters.

Halfords with Cataclean driver 'Flash', 42, equalled his best result of the season so far with a second place in the final race of the day, holding off championship leader Ash Sutton in the process.

That came after he had posted 10th- and sixth-place finishes, which saw him collect 33 points, leaving him on a total of 165 in sixth place, 82 points behind Sutton, with nine rounds left.

For Butcher, 34, his chances of a maiden BTCC title appear more remote after a difficult weekend, which began with him being consigned to the back of the grid for race one following an engine failure in qualifying.

The Toyota Gazoo Racing UK driver made up six positions in the first lap of the opening race, taking 19th at the chequered flag, only for his bad luck to return in race two, where he found himself on the receiving end of a clash that put him out on the spot.

Butcher did, however, have a brighter ending to the weekend as he produced a superb charge from 29th to 11th place in the weekend's last race, scoring five points, which helped consolidate his position within the top 10 of the standings.

Ahead of rounds 22, 23 and 24 todayat Silverstone, he has 141 points, 106 adrift of Sutton, and commented: "I felt really confident going to Croft. Given the circuit’s proximity to the Scottish border, I had fantastic support and the (Toyota) Corolla was in great shape, as we proved in practice.

"The engine failure in qualifying then came completely out of the blue. Christian (Dick, team principal) said to me afterwards that it was the first time this season he had believed we were genuinely on for pole position. We had so much speed in the car, and it was just such a shame we couldn’t exploit it.

"Starting dead last in race one, we knew we had our work cut out. Being at the back of the grid, the aim is obviously to fight your way through, but you also have to be mindful that you are much more susceptible to getting caught up in other drivers’ dramas – as we discovered to our cost.

"It’s such a competitive field in the BTCC so we bolted the soft tyres on for the first race as we thought they would be faster but it turned out that the car actually felt stronger on the medium compound. I climbed as far up the order as I could and the plan was to do more of the same in race two but then I got taken out on the opening lap – simply wrong place, wrong time.

"That meant we had to try to do it all over again in race three and, following a stellar repair job by the Speedworks mechanics, the Corolla was really on its tiptoes and I could keep on pushing the whole way through. I managed to steer clear of all the incidents this time and whenever I had clear air, I was able to rapidly catch the cars ahead and very nearly snuck into the top 10 on the last lap.

"It was unquestionably a weekend of ‘what could have been’ but it was nonetheless a great feeling to see all the behind-the-scenes development converted into on-track performance and progress.

"We didn’t get the results we deserved at Croft due to circumstances beyond our control but we certainly showed what we are capable of and everybody in the team should feel extremely proud of their efforts."