Invercargill driver Brendon Leitch retains the lead in the New Zealand Formula Ford Championship after the penultimate round at Manfeild Park in Feilding.
However, Christchurch driver James Munro has narrowed the margin to three points and the two will go head to head at Taupo Motorsport Park next month to decide the championship.
The weekend round began well for the 17-year-old Southlander as he drove the EH Ball/ITM Stealth to the fastest time in a close qualifying session.
However, the three races proved a struggle for the championship leader as he battled handling issues with the car.
Despite that, he was still in the thick of the action, placing third in Saturday afternoon's opening race before taking second place on Sunday morning after what he called a "terrible start".
In the final clash, Leitch led for the first part of the race in a torrid battle before claiming third place at the chequered flag.
Leitch finished third overall for the round, just one point behind Christchurch driver Tom Alexander, who was second.
After taking a share of overall victory in the opening round of the championship and winning the second, a lack of straight-line speed at Hampton Downs last weekend and handling issues at Manfeild have eroded the young driver's healthy lead.
"We just couldn't get the car and tyres working together," said Leitch at the conclusion of the round yesterday.
"We will be working on the handling before the final round," he said.
The EH Ball/ITM Stealth will be taken back to Invercargill for testing before the Formula Ford Championship finale.
The event will be held in Taupo from March 9 to 10.
- The Southland Times