A THRILLING climax saw Gordon Shedden snatch a vital final race victory on Sunday to maintain his place at the top of the British Touring Car Championship.

And the 38-year-old hopes a huge home crowd will help him accelerate closer to a third successive title when the series heads to Knockhill this weekend.

After a summer break, the BTCC returned at Norfolk’s Snetterton track and Shedden, business development manager at Knockhill, went into it leading the way by 11 points.

‘Flash’ is aiming to become the first driver to win four championships since Andy Rouse completed the feat in 1985, but a tricky qualifying session on Saturday threatened to put the brakes on his quest.

He found himself 21st on the grid and contending with the maximum 75kg of success ballast – placed on board his Honda Civic Type R due to his status as championship leader – around a circuit where carrying the added weight can make itself known.

An action-packed first race, round 16, saw the Halfords Yuasa Racing man complete the 12 laps with a 13th place finish, handing him three precious points in the title race and meaning he would have no ballast on board for race two.

He then made further ground in race two by fighting his way through to seventh and, by landing second place on the reverse grid draw for the weekend’s finale, the opportunity for Shedden to finish with a race victory was there for the taking.

He did enjoy a slice of luck; mechanical problems for Andrew Jordan up ahead meant the door was open for a third victory of the campaign, which he duly took.

Shedden said: “With my poor qualifying position, I knew that this weekend would be about damage limitation and trying to gain as many points as possible, so I fought hard in races one and two and got the luck of the reverse draw to put me second for the final race.

“I just kept plugging away and towards the end the tyres were going off, but as soon as (Andrew) Jordan pulled over it was head down and elbows out to finish on top of the podium which I never expected at the beginning of the day – I’m ecstatic.

“I’m back leading the championship and heading to my home circuit at Knockhill next. It’s always mega there as the crowd are right behind me and give me that extra tenth of a second.”

Rounds 19, 20 and 21 take place at Knockhill over the weekend of August 12-13. Shedden leads the championship with 221 points, just two ahead of second-placed Colin Turkington and four clear of Rob Collard in third.

If you fancy winning your way to this weekend's BTCC round at Knockhill, pick up your copy of this Thursday's Press.