Jack Harvey took honours in the first British Formula 3 International Series race of the weekend at Donington Park to move within a point of championship leader Jazeman Jaafar.
Harvey got the jump on his fellow Carlin Dallara-Volkswagen driver and increased his lead incrementally to almost five seconds with a lap to go.
Both drivers pushed to the limit throughout in a bid to gain the extra point for fastest lap, but were denied four laps from the end by Alex Lynn, who chased Jaafar all the way and completed the podium.
Meanwhile, Felix Serralles was passed around the outside of the first turn at Redgate on the opening lap by Fortec Motorsport Dallara-Mercedes team-mate Lynn.
While Lynn waved goodbye to his slim mathematical chance of the title, Serralles finished fourth and is still just eight points behind Jaafar going into Sunday's two races.
A delighted Harvey said: "I was pushing for fastest lap throughout the race. Sometimes I had it, sometimes I didn't, but what we did was probably our maximum. In the end it was better to get the 20 points than lose them all pushing for the extra one."
Behind Serralles, Hannes van Asseldonk finished fifth, and even held fastest lap for one lap.
The best entertainment came from a spectacular battle for sixth between Brazilians Pipo Derani and Pietro Fantin, which finally went Fantin's way when he dived down the inside into the Melbourne hairpin with five laps remaining. Harry Tincknell was almost close enough to take advantage too.
Tincknell will start Sunday's reversed-grid race from pole after Harvey finally ended his habit of drawing the number '12' from the ballbag and this time picked the number '8'.
Another close race behind ended with Rupert Svendsen-Cook taking ninth from Nick McBride and Geoff Uhrhane.
Welshman Hywel Lloyd cruised to the National Class victory in his CF Racing Dallara, but it was Spike Goddard who claimed the title.
The Australian was tapped into a spin at - ironically - Goddards on the opening lap by T-Sport team-mate Pedro Pablo Calbimonte, but recovered to pass Duvashen Padayachee for third, which is all he needed to do to be crowned champion.
Results - 21 laps: Pos Driver Team/Car Time/Gap 1. Jack Harvey Carlin Dallara-VW 29m07.724s 2. Jazeman Jaafar Carlin Dallara-VW + 3.911s 3. Alex Lynn Fortec Dallara-Merc + 5.044s 4. Felix Serralles Fortec Dallara-Merc + 7.846s 5. Hannes van Asseldonk Fortec Dallara-Merc + 9.521s 6. Pietro Fantin Carlin Dallara-VW + 22.173s 7. Pipo Derani Fortec Dallara-Merc + 26.799s 8. Harry Tincknell Carlin Dallara-VW + 27.591s 9. Rupert Svendsen-Cook Double R Dallara-Merc + 38.638s 10. Nick McBride T-Sport Dallara-Nissan + 39.468s 11. Geoff Uhrhane Double R Dallara-Merc + 39.903s 12. Hywel Lloyd CF Dallara-Mugen* + 53.274s 13. Pedro Pablo Calbimonte T-Sport Dallara-Mugen* + 57.965s 14. Spike Goddard T-Sport Dallara-Mugen* + 1m17.753s 15. Duvashen Padayachee Double R Dallara-Mugen* + 1 lap