BULLISH Gordon Shedden says he has reason to feel confident about claiming a third successive title – despite admitting he faces one of his toughest tests this weekend.

The reigning British touring car champion and his Halfords Yuasa Racing team head to Oulton Park in Cheshire for rounds 10, 11 and 12 of the season and is anticipating two days of fierce competition.

Knockhill business development manager Shedden, 38, is chasing an historic fourth championship win and, after a disappointing second weekend slowed down his progress and dropped him to fourth in the drivers’ standings, he roared back into form by top-scoring at Thruxton last time out.

That moved him up to second, just 17 points behind leader Tom Ingram, and after dominating qualifying alongside team-mate Matt Neal, ‘Flash’ reckons a repeat showing will set him up nicely to collect a decent points tally that will keep his title challenge motoring Both drivers acknowledge, however, that similar single-lap speed will be a tall order at Oulton – a circuit that historically favours rear wheel-drive machinery and whose layout does not tend to be kind to cars carrying success ballast – but are fired-up for the challenge ahead.

Shedden commented: “Oulton Park is great fun to drive but I’m fully expecting a tough weekend – probably one of our toughest, in fact. It has traditionally been a rear wheel-drive circuit because they can pull away from the hairpins quicker but Honda cars have generally been competitive there too, we’ve scored some good results over the years and the Civic Type R is a very well-balanced piece of kit. Being so difficult to pass at Oulton, qualifying could be make-or-break so I’ll really need to dig deep to pull something special out of the bag, particularly with 66kg of ballast on board and the stop-start nature of the lap.

“The aim will be to make it as far up the grid as I can, although if I don’t manage to crack the top 10 – which is a real possibility – then it will come down to playing the long game.

“The bottom line is that we’re in a better position in the championship than we were this time last year and without the exclusion at Donington we would be in the lead. Whilst it’s obviously disappointing not to be, we tend to get stronger over the second half of the season as we get to tracks that suit us a bit more, so there’s every reason to be optimistic right now.”

Oulton Park is the fourth of 10 circuits the drivers will compete at throughout the season, including Knockhill, which hosts the seventh race weekend over the weekend of August 12-13.

Shedden has accumulated 114 championship points so far, two more than third-placed Colin Turkington, with Ingram leading on 131.