The season ended last night for the NSW Compact Speedcars in spectacular fashion at Bega’s Sapphire Speedway with the second running of the Memorial Feature honouring our past, but not forgotten racers.
It was a hugely emotional win for 2nd meeting Rookie, Grant Lahiff, uncle of Shayne “Shorty” Gilyeat one of the drivers being honoured. Grant got the jump at the fall of the green for the 20 lap Memorial Feature. Craig Hickey made a blinding outside move in 1 and 2 to slot int…o 2nd before turn 3. Cars were 4 wide in the first part of the final.
Once several laps had been completed the race settled into a steady pace with Lahiff now opening up a very handy lead in the Rob Eyeington owned “Shorty 303” machine while Hickey was now under pressure from Alan Day, Rod Francis and Scott Saville.
Francis made a bold move under Day coming out of 4, passing Day and also Hickey to take over second as they ran down the front straight. A few laps later and Francis spun coming off 2 bringing on the yellows and negating the 1/2 lap lead that Lahiff had established.
When racing resumed Hickey tried to take the race up to the leader. Lahiff held off that challenge and again began to open the gap over second.
Mark Heaton was struggling mid pack not able to make any forward progress. He was the next to bring on the yellows with his rear brakes binding, eventually catching fire. The flames were quickly extinguished and Mark exited the car with no injuries.
When the greens came on this time it was Saville who was now in second and was coming on gang busters. He briefly also tried to challenge Lahiff before the leader again drew clear. It seamed second wasn’t the place to be as Savilles power plant erupted into flame due to an engine detonation. Again the fire was quickly put out and Scott escaped unscathed.
4 laps now remained and Francis had now recovered to be running in second. Francis looked as though he was going to back up last years memorial win with win number two but Lahiff wasn’t going to make it easy and kept his number 98 machine on the preferred race line and drew clear over those final laps to take a special win by about 6 car lengths ahead of Francis, Hickey manage to ahold Day at bay to claim 3rd. Day placed 4th with Bruce Adams in 5th and Andrew Coppock in 6th.
Mark Heaton started off well picking up a win in heat one. Rod Francis showed plenty of speed winning heat 2. Craig Hickey became the 3rd different heat winner taking out the final 10 lapper easily.