News Walter Hayes Trophy

Keith Donegan edges heat four thriller despite tangle with Niall Murray

Keith Donegan narrowly scored victory in a tightly contested heat four race in the Walter Hayes Trophy having survived last lap contact with polesitter Niall Murray.

From third on the grid, Donegan stormed into the lead and he and last year’s Walter Hayes champion Murray set the early pace, with Team USA scholar Jonathan Kotyk keeping a watchful eye from third.

As the lead pair began sizing each other up, Joshua Smith worked his way back into contention and briefly snatched second before a lock-up approaching Luffield sent him back down to fourth a lap later.

With a few laps to go, Donegan led from Murray and Kotyk – the top three separated by less than a second.

Murray looked to have the pace for victory as he set the fastest time on the penultimate lap, but the defining moment came as the leading trio approached Luffield.

As Donegan attempted to defend his lead, he and Murray made contact. Although both continued without damage, an opportunistic Kotyk ran up the inside and briefly grab the lead through Woodcote. But Donegan had a much stronger exit which meant he had the speed to out-drag Kotyk onto the pit-straight to take the win by just 0.144s.

Murray was not able to recover quite as emphatically and in the end had to settle for third, less than 0.2s behind Kotyk.

Smith was fourth after his off at Luffield, with Chris Middlehurst and Luciano Carvalho further behind – neither in serious contention for the win.

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