RORY BUTCHER wowed the Knockhill crowds on Sunday by bagging a race win and a further podium finish to keep his title hopes alive.

The 32-year-old hailed what he felt was a "perfect weekend" after he closed to within 41 points of leader Colin Turkington following a dramatic weekend of Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship (BTCC) action.

Roared on by tens of thousands of fans at his home circuit, Butcher – who had already topped both free practice sessions – made a dream start by scoring his first-ever pole position after clocking a new qualifying lap record of 50.451 seconds – 0.243 ahead of Dan Cammish in second place.

That set the scene for a thrilling round 22 of the championship in which the Cobra Sport AmD with AutoAid/RCIB Insurance Racing team driver led for much of the way, despite losing a gear after a period in which the safety car was deployed early on.

In the penultimate lap, pressure from BMW Pirtek Racing's Andrew Jordan eventually told when Butcher's Honda Civic Type R clipped the kerbs at the final hairpin to allow his rival to take the lead.

But Jordan's joy was short-lived as, after carrying too much speed into Duffus Dip on the last lap, he briefly ran on track to give Butcher the opportunity to retake the lead and claim a third victory of the season.

In race two, Butcher, carrying full success ballast, crossed the line in third spot but, following an incident with Turkington, was handed a five-place grid penalty ahead of race three, in which he finished 14th.

Speaking to Press Sport, however, he commented: "It was all positive stuff.

"If someone told me I'd get a pole position and a race win at my home track, I'd have snapped their hand off. It was a perfect weekend because there are so many people there to see you, you want to do well so badly.

"I was quietly confident in myself and the car that I felt I could fight for pole but I didn't expect to be so far ahead in qualifying. It's almost unheard of to be that far ahead!

"Saturday was a perfect day and I felt good going into Sunday's race. Sunday is a harder day; you're door-to-door with 30 other guys but, sitting on the grid, I thought there was no way I'm finishing second.

"I had to race for 20 laps with no third gear, and they were the hardest 20 laps of my career. We had to be inch-perfect.

"You have to try and take it in and enjoy the moment. The crowd were pumped, and it was amazing to win on home soil, but there was a lot of relief.

"After the race, you have time to think about your sponsors, family, friends and the touring car fans who are there to support you, so I was glad to deliver a race win for them."

He continued: "We bagged another podium in race two where, because we had such good pace, we opted for medium, slower tyres.

"I had full success ballast as well so it was a tough race but I held on for third and kept the home crowd happy.

"We're in a good place and still fighting strong. We secured a strong points haul and, with two rounds to go, we're still in the mix.

"It's an outside chance but you don't know what can happen.

"At the start of the season, my goal was to go into the final round of the championship with a chance. It's about being consistent.

"We've had a fantastic year so far and we just need to keep the momentum going."

Rounds 25, 26 and 27 of the BTCC will take place at Silverstone on September 28-29 before the final event of the season commences at Brands Hatch next month.