Rowan Shepherd leads the 2021 Best Bars Toyota 86 championship by just two points over Ryan Wood with one round left to play out.
Having dominated round three at Manfeild, Shepherd wasn’t able to add to his winning tally last weekend at Pukekohe.
Instead, two wins from Wood and one by title protagonist Simon Evans saw Shepherd’s points lead slashed.
Seven points now separate the trio, setting up what could be the closest championship finish in the series’ seven-year history.
“It’s been a great weekend for us and it sets everything up nicely for the final round,” said Wood, who moved from third to second in the standings thanks to his two race wins.
“We’ll just treat as we have every round and try and be competitive and do well in every race. The driving quality throughout the field is excellent and I’m fully aware of how good the top drivers are, but obviously a good weekend like this gives us confidence heading into the final.”
Brock Gilchrist still has an outside chance at the title should Shepherd, Wood, and Evans suffer a dismal final round.
Seventh in a wet race one, Gilchrist scored two top-fives in the next two races to bolster his points tally.
Behind, Marco Giltrap and Ronan Murphy are locked in an intriguing battle for fifth.
The two rookies were split by 23 points heading into Pukekohe and leave with the margin still at a lowly 29.
Giltrap has been of the most consistent youngsters this season, while Murphy has come on song in the last two rounds in the Dayle ITM Racing machine.
Given how close the field has been each race, one mistake by either two at Taupo could see their chance to finish inside the top-five vanquished.
Christina Orr-West claimed a trio of eighths over the weekend and is comfortably sitting seventh in the standings.
A strong round for Alexandra Whitley saw her elevate up two championship spots to be eighth.
Todd Foster and Mark Mallard round out the provisional top-ten in standings.
Drivers and teams have three weekends before returning to the track for the finale in Taupo over the weekend of April 16-18.
TR 86 Points: