Will Brown further extended his CAMS Australian Formula 4 Championship lead after seeing off title rival Nick Rowe in an entertaining opening heat at Sandown Raceway.
The Team BRM driver quickly disposed of pole-sitter Jordan Love to assume the lead on the opening lap, but was unable to ease away from the chasing pack.
Rowe emerged as Brown’s nearest rival as the Western Australian closed onto the back of the Team BRM racer.
The pair enjoyed a dice before Rowe managed to draw alongside and take the lead at Turn 1 on lap six.
Determined to fightback, Brown remained on Rowe’s gearbox for the following laps until the latter made a scrappy exit from the final corner, which allowed Brown to retake the lead at Turn 1 on lap 10.
The scrap allowed Love to reel the pair in and it wasn’t long before he took second, as Rowe ran wide at Turn 9 and dropped to fourth.
Meanwhile, Brown held his nerve to take the victory from Love, while Josh Denton capitalised on Rowe’s error to secure third.
Junior Racing Development driver Tyler Everingham managed to pass Rowe for fourth in the closing stages.
It proved to be an eventful race for Harry Hayek with his hopes of a podium dashed on the opening lap.
The Team BRM driver briefly held second after a strong start but a lock up saw him run wide and spin on the wet grass at Turn 1.
After recovering from the excursion, a mistake on the penultimate lap saw him retire from the race in spectacular fashion.
Hayek ran wide at Turn 7 which saw his car launch over the kerbs and into the gravel the trap.
Formula 4 returns for another 13 lap race on Saturday.
Toyota 86 Racing Series
Adam Gowans snatched pole position from Will Brown in a holy contested qualifying session for the Toyota 86 Racing Series.
The pair enjoyed a thrilling head-to-head in the 15 minute hit out which began with Gowans setting the pace.
Brown displaced the Valvoline backed Toyota as the session reached its climax before Gowans responded with a 1:26.26s final effort.
Luke King will start Saturday’s opening race from third just 0.9s shy of Gowans, with Tim Brook in fourth.
Trent Grubel was fifth fastest ahead of former Supercars driver Steven Johnson, Aaron Seton, David Sieders and Ben Grice.
Championship leader Cameron Hill could only post a time good enough for 10th, while guest drivers Leanne Tander and Tony Longhurst were 16th and 26th respectively.
The field will tackle two races on Saturday with the first 11 lap contest set to begin at 0905 AEST.