Tim Leahey clearly demonstrated he will be a forced to be reckoned with in the Holden Australian Driver's Championship with a stunning fightback in the opening round at Phillip Island today.

The young open wheeler star had a shattering start to his day when he passed reigning champion Simon Wills to grab the opening race lead, only to suffer a broken gearbox input shaft only moments later.

Leahey had finished only 0.2687 of a second behind Wills in qualifying, but was forced to sit the remainder of the opening race with a stricken racecar.

Forced to start from the rear of the grid, Leahey made a barnstorming start to move up to fourth place on the opening lap and then set chase on the race leaders.

Leahey passed Christian Murchison for third and then closed on Wills and Matthew Halliday.

Only a late race gearbox gremlin stopped the young star from moving beyond third spot.

"We had a really disappointing start to the day, especially after leading my first Formula Holden race ­ even if it was for only a couple of seconds," Leahey said.

"I was desperate to get a strong points haul in the opening round and had to charge off the back in the second race.

"I am starting to feel really comfortable in the car and it is just a pity we had that problem in the first race.

"I think I could have challenged Simon (Wills) strongly for the win."

While disappointed, Leahey is confident he can still challenge strongly for the title in the Murphy Motorsport Reynard 92D.

"The team demonstrated we have the pace, we just need a little luck to go our way," Leahey said.

"Simon is obviously very experienced and tough to beat, but this championship is far from over."