Chris Symon has extended his Hi-Q Components NZ Formula First points lead after a thrilling 0.008s win in the opening race of round three at Pukekohe Park Raceway.
In traditional Formula First fashion, less than one second covered the top four runners with the high-speed nature of the Pukekohe circuit making slipstream pivotal for a shot at victory.
Liam Foster was the unfortunate runner-up in the duel to the finish stripe, falling tantalisingly short of victory despite leading coming onto the final straight.
The eight-lapper was punctuated by just one safety car intervention after Liam Nicholson suffered a mishap at Turn 3, fortunately not eliminating anyone else in the process.
Amy Smith had one of most complete qualifying sessions earlier in the day to start alongside poleman Symon on the front row of the grid.
But a scruffy first lap had her shuffle back to down to fourth, yielding positions to Foster and Brody McConkey. The trio then duked it out over the course of the next two laps before the race was neutralised under yellow to recover the stricken Nicholson.
With Foster locking his sights firmly on Symon up front, McConkey and Smith were joined by Hayden Bakkerus and rookie racer Zachary Blincoe in the fight for third following the restart.
Ultimately, it was McConkey who came out trumps. Making a move to third just a handful of corners from the finish, the 22-year-old from Paraparaumu then latched onto the rear of Foster along the front straight to prevent an assault from behind.
However, in a surprisingly turn of events, McConkey would be disqualified less than an hour after the race due to a valve lift infringement.
That ultimately promoted Smith to third, adding to her top-three result from the previous round from a wet Hampton Downs.
Bakkerus slipped back to end up fifth, later elevated to fourth, and one-tenth ahead of Blincoe.
Dylan Gaunt was a big mover throughout the 15-strong field, climbing four positions from 11th on the grid to seventh on track by the chequered flag.
Rookie pairing Leo Scott and Louis Sharp were on course for a steady points haul before a clumsy collision had them drop to finish a lowly 12th and 13th.
The Formula First field will have two more races tomorrow, the first of which is scheduled to be at 9.45 am.
Main Image: Tayler Burke