RACE ace Gordon Shedden says he’ll need to be “absolutely on top” of his game to retain his British Touring Car Championship lead this weekend.

The reigning champion is on top of the standings after what he described as a “brilliant” opening weekend at Brands Hatch, where he scored his first race win of the season as well as a runner-up finish.

‘Flash’, business development manager at Knockhill Racing Circuit, proved that he is still very much the current benchmark for his rivals to aspire to as his strong performance saw him collect 48 points, putting him six clear of second-placed Tom Ingram.

But, having had a week off ahead of this weekend’s second round at Donnington Park, in Leicestershire, the 38-year-old knows that leading the way in pursuit of a third title in a row – and an historic fourth overall – brings its own set of problems.

“The championship lead obviously comes with its own challenge in the form of a 75kg handicap going into qualifying, but it’s clear that the advantage is going to be ebb-and-flow throughout the season.

“And, as I’ve always said, I’ll take points in the bag every day of the week and then deal with rest of it later,” Shedden commented.

“We saw at Brands Hatch how close it is in qualifying and how competitive the BTCC is going to be this year, so there’s no question that Donington will be tough for me on Saturday and early doors Sunday with so many fast, light cars in the field.

“Just look at Matt (Neal, Shedden’s Honda Yuasa Racing team-mate), who suffered last time out but will be back firing on all cylinders at his home circuit – but that’s just the price you pay for having a strong previous weekend.

“I’ll need to be absolutely on top of my game from the outset, but on the positive side, the Civic Type R was mega with all the weight on-board in race two at Brands, and to finish seventh in race three on maximum ballast and the soft tyres was almost as good as a win.

“So, hopefully we can minimise the damage in qualifying and race one and then go from there.”

Shedden concluded: “The goal is to leave still leading the championship – although quite how I do that, I haven’t figured out yet!”

Qualifying at Donnington Park gets underway on Saturday, with races taking place on Sunday.