Only 10.6 seconds separated first and second outright in the fourth round of the Tasmanian Rally Championship.
Well-performed driver Steve Maguire, of Elliott, and navigator Stuart Benson, won the seven-stage , Rocky Cape Sprint Rally in their Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 5.
However, they were pushed all the way by Burnie’s Kade Barrett and David Guest, in an amazing drive in an older and supposedly inferior car.
The event was only the second championship outing this year for Maguire and Benson, who finished second in round two, the Hellyer Rally, in June, and are now third in the series.
Meanwhile Barrett, drove the wheels off his Plymouth Fire Arrow in a superb display, to be in the top five all day.
The impressive effort also included a win on the fifth of seven stages and two second-fastest times in two more, also claiming overall two-wheel-drive honours in the process.
However, Maguire was up to the challenge, winning four of the first six stages to take a 12-second lead into the final stage.
Spreyton’s Tim Auty and Anthony Carr, in a Mazda 323 GTR, took the honours in the final stage from Barrett and Maguire, to keep their championship hopes alive, finishing third outright and one spot in front of series leaders Bodie Reading and Alex Malcolm, of Hobart, in a Subaru Impreza WRX Sti.
Reading and Malcolm were a picture of consistency, finishing fourth in every stage to bank some valuable points to maintain their championship lead, with one round to go at Mathinna next month.
Burnie’s Nic Grave and Craig Sheahan, in a non-turbo Subaru RS, finished sixth outright, to maintain second place in the outright championship, but they have been joined on equal points by Auty and Carr, ensuring the title fight will go right down to the wire.
Reading and Carr lead the series by 34 points over the two Coastal crews, with up to 80 points available in the final round.
Grave and Sheahan have all but wrapped up the RS Challenge one-make series after a consistent season, either winning or placing second in every round, including another class win at Rocky Cape.
The Tasmanian two-wheel-drive championship is also alive with a round to go, after Stuart Turner and Mitch Newton (Ford Fiesta R2) finished seventh outright and second in class behind Barrett and Guest, to narrow the gap to just 16 points to series leaders Mark Kyle and Braiden Scott (Datsun 1600).
The only noticeable retirement of the day in a superbly conducted event, was due to a broken brake caliper suffered by former Tasmanian 2WD champion Lee Peterson, of Hobart, and Daniel Willson, in a Nissan Sunny GTi
The event also included the third round of the North-West Car Club Series.
Experienced veteran Peter Barrett and navigator Melissa Weldon in a Toyota Sprinter, emerged victorious by a margin of 51 seconds from Stuart Rattray and Scott Sandman, in a Subaru Impreza WRX Sti.