Dexion Racing’s Tim Slade continues to maintain the lead in the Australian Formula Ford Championship heading into the final round at Phillip Island in a months time.

The 20-year-old driver now leads season-long rival John Martin by three points after an up and down weekend at Tasmania’s Symmons Plains raceway that saw Slade unlucky not to come away with a much more significant points lead.

As it is the pair will now battle it out for the Australian Formula Ford championship in Victoria after tough weekends for both saw the status quo maintained heading into the final round.

Slade was the dominant force throughout practice and qualifying at the small yet fast Symmons Plains Raceway circuit near Launceston, dominating the two practice sessions on Friday by over half a second.

Slade was able to carry that form over into Saturday Qualifying, taking his Dexion-supported Sonic Motor Racing Van Diemen to a 56.2794s lap that scored him pole by just over a tenth of a second.

As an indication of how close the field was, the next three cars were covered by less than 0.1s.

The first race didn’t go to plan for the Dexion car, Slade caught up in a race-long dice with Paul Laskazeski and Martin for the lead of the race.

A late braking move from Martin on lap 10 saw him pass both the dicing leaders, Slade shuffled back to third – and then eventually fourth after a brief off-track excursion – at the line.

The second race went significantly better, a wet track producing a close battle between Slade and Dale Wood for the lead of the race.

With Martin out, a consistent Slade finished a tight second to give himself a 13-point lead in the championship heading into the final race of the day.

On a drying circuit, Slade’s car was hit by Ash Walsh in the early stages of the final 15-lap affair, damaging the wishbone on the front of the Dexion entry and relegating it to the back of the field.

Following a safety car intervention, Slade restarted only to find the throttle jammed open – sending the car into the sand trap. Despite returning to the circuit, Slade was unable to complete the race after the throttle stuck open once again later in the race – leaving Slade out by lap six.

The wash-up from the round saw Martin close the margin by just one point to the Dexion racer, with one round and three races remaining to settle the 2006 championship.

“It’s disappointing that we weren’t able to capitalize on the 13-point lead that we had in the championship following race two,” Dexion Racing’s Tim Slade said at the conclusion of today’s third race.

“It would have been nice to go to the final round leading by a bigger margin, but that’s the way the sport goes. At least we are still in the championship lead which is obviously where I’d rather be.

“It was a really tough day and certainly didn’t go the way we hoped after the pace the Dexion car showed in practice and qualifying,” Slade added.

“Unfortunately we were caught up in some other people’s incidents, and then we had the throttle problem in race three. When the throttle stuck for the first time it caught me out a bit and sent me off the track. I was able to get the car back out to circulate until the finish but when it did it again that was it.

“It certainly wasn’t the best weekend of the year but we are still in front and I think the car should go very well at Phillip Island.”

The final round of the Australian Formula Ford Championship will be held at the Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit on December 8 – 10, the event a triple-header for Dexion racing with Tony Evangelou (Fujitsu V8 Supercars), Craig Lowndes (V8 Supercar Championship) and Slade all set to take part in the weekend.