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A change of teams helped Garry Findlay to the best result of his 2015 VdeV sportscar campaign after he and his new team-mates claimed fourth place in the 6Hrs of Motorland-Aragon.

After a couple of frustrating outings with CD Sport to begin the season, the Briton made the switch to Graff Racing to partner ‘gentlemen’ drivers Franck Gauvin and Sergio Pasian in the French team’s Ligier JS53 Evo2, and was rewarded with a shot at a podium finish first time out.

With no opportunity to test as he finalised the move just days before the trip to Spain, Findlay was forced to use his limited practice time to get familiar with the Ligier, having used a Norma chassis in previous VdeV outings, but was stymied by an oil system problem that restricted his most competitive laps to the final 20 minutes before qualifying. Despite that, the Suffolk native helped guide his new car to a solid seventh on the grid, lapping just a couple of tenths off the more experienced Yann Clairay in the sister car.

“It’s never ideal to have to learn a new car in official practice, especially when you still have to make adjustments to your seating position as well as tuning the set-up,” Findlay explained, “Nevertheless, between us, we managed to get the car sorted more and more as the day went on, and felt quite confident going into qualifying. Given that I was still adapting to the different characteristics of the Ligier, I was delighted to lap so close to Clairay’s time, especially as he has a lot of experience with the JS53 and is a Ligier development driver.”

Given the honour of starting the race despite it being his first outing for Graff, Findlay wasted little time in making a good impression, converting his fourth row start into second place as the field exited turn two on the opening lap! He remained second for much of the opening hour, and the #91 Graff entry was a fixture in the top five even as driver changes and fuel stops shuffled the order. The car temporarily assumed the lead at the end of the fifth hour, but was back to P5 when Findlay returned to the cockpit for the final stint.

Despite the leaders having become strung out over the course of the race, the Briton quickly made up one position and appeared to have the pace to make further gains, only for an accident 25 minutes from the chequered flag to bring out the safety car and halt his progress. With oil on the track needing to be cleaned up and some ominous clouds on the horizon, the organisers subsequently decided to control the pace to the end of the race, leaving Findlay a slightly frustrated fourth as he crossed the line.

“The start was fantastic!” he grinned, “I had a good getaway and then a big hole just opened up as the cars ahead all battled over the same bit of tarmac…. I was able to run ahead of Clairay for a while, but a baulky gearchange eventually gave him the chance to get ahead and, from them on, we were looking at a top five finish.

"My new team-mates did a great job to keep the car in contention, and I really believe that we could have had a podium finish had the safety car not come out at the end. The Ligier is a very different beast to the Norma I drove previously, and required a different driving style, but the whole weekend was promising and confirmed that the decision to change teams was the right one.”

The switch to Graff could also open further doors for Findlay as he has been invited to the launch of Ligier’s LMP3 prototype at next weekend’s Le Mans 24 Hours and could get the opportunity to test the machine at some point later in the season.

“I’ve made no secret of my desire to keep moving up the sportscar ranks, using VdeV as a first step on the prototype ladder,” the former FFord and F3 ace emphasised, “While CD Sport gave me the chance to break into the series, Graff is a bigger team with cars in other championships and I’m hoping that that will give me the chance to move up in future.

“The invitation from Ligier and Onroak to attend the LMP3 launch is exciting, and I'm really looking forward to seeing the car. It’s early days yet, but I have a good yardstick in Yann Clairay, who has a lot of single-seater and sportscar experience, so I’ll try to keep pace with him and see where it leads…”

Round four of the 2015 VdeV Series takes place over four hours at Dijon-Prenois in France on the weekend of 26-28 June.

Graff switch provides Aragon upturn