Tim SladeJust twenty-one points is all that has separated Dexion Racing’s Tim Slade from the Australian Formula Ford Championship after one of the most competitive years on record for the open wheel category.

The Dexion-supported driver missed the title by the agonizingly narrow margin after a difficult round at the Phillip Island Grand Prix circuit at the weekend, year-long rival John Martin taking the series in the final race despite Slade doing everything he could to snare the crown.

This weekend’s final round continued the year long rivalry between the pair and despite the letdown, has continued to prove that Slade is ready for the next big step in his career.

“It’s disappointing,” Slade said.

“It’s been a really tough weekend. We started off slow but the team worked really hard to get the car back onto the pace.

“It’s been a massive year and despite loosing the championship there have been some pretty significant positives. We have won five races, set three consecutive pole positions and set a couple of lap records so it hasn’t been all bad.

“I have to thank the crew at Sonic Motor Racing Services for their support, as well as my Dad. The year couldn’t have happened without either of them. Our relationship with Dexion has also been fantastic and it looks like that we have some exciting things for the future that I’m really looking forward too.” He said.

Slade qualified his Dexion / Sonic Motor Racing Van Diemen third on the 16-car grid Friday evening, setting a lap just .13s behind pole and less than half that margin behind Martin, who qualified second.

That intensity would again show during the first 9-lap event held on Saturday, the two combatants never split by more than one car as they raced for the championship. After a gritty battle, Slade made a last-lap draft on the start-finish straight to just miss beating Martin at the line by less than a tenth of a second.

Still leading the championship race by a point, today’s second race proved to be a dramatic affair that would have significant bearing on the championship.

After running as high as second in the early stages, Slade was still ahead of Martin – who was fourth – coming into the final tour of the nine-lap race.

Martin then dived underneath Slade into the hairpin, following a clash between the race leaders who were just in front of the championship protagonists. Heading into the following corner, Slade touched the rear of the Rising Star spectrum after Martin slowed unexpectedly mid-corner.

The resulting contact left Slade’s nose box stuck underneath the front suspension and essentially ended the race for the Dexion driver, who was left to finish eighth.

Slade – caught up in the midfield – then scrapped home 9th in the third and final race this afternoon to cap off his championship year.

“Race two was probably the race that decided it,” Slade said.

“The leaders came together into the Hairpin after a safety car period – before that I’d had a good lead over Martin and it was looking pretty good.

“Then John passed me with a late move and then seemed to slow going through Siberia. I just tagged the back of his car mid corner and the hit broke the nose box off my car and got it caught underneath the front suspension.

“I battled hard in the third race but once you are in the pack it’s pretty hard. There were some pretty wild moves going on.” He said.

“We had some good speed this weekend. The car wasn’t that great early on but my team worked very hard and the car was getting better.

”It’s not the way I wanted to end the year but the season has been good, for the most part, I’ve learnt a lot and the future is looking interesting.”

Slade finished the season second in the championship, just twenty-one points (300 – 279) behind Martin after eight rounds and 30 races. His successful season included five race wins, and more pole positions than any other driver in the series this year.