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Garry Findlay’s bid for glory in the VdeV Series’ 12 Hours of Paul Ricard evaporated before he could even get into the car as Graff Racing’s unreliability bug bit hard in the south of France.

Looking to bounce back after a frustrating retirement in the previous round at Dijon-Prenois, Findlay and co-drivers Franck Gauvin and Sergio Pasian showed good form through the pre-race sessions, finding their feet in the #91 Ligier JS53 Evo during practice, before converting sixth-fastest time in the second outing into their best qualifying performance of the year to date.

A major set-up change transformed the pace of the Ligier heading into the longest race on the VdeV schedule, with Findlay finding that the new direction was particularly suited to his driving style. Amongst the fastest Ligiers in the unofficial sessions, Findlay rose to the top of the group when it counted, moving the Graff machine into second spot overall in qualifying.

“The feeling in the car was the best it’s been all season” the 26-year old confirmed, “The change in set-up definitely worked for me, and I didn’t feel like I was fighting the car as I had before. We had pretty good pace throughout practice, and especially in qualifying, although I think there was still a little more to come from me which could have been the difference between pole position and a spot on the front row.”

Although confidence was high heading into the race, Graff’s optimism would not last long, with all three of its cars succumbing to mechanical problems early on. With Pasian having started the race, Findlay was a spectator when the #91 hit trouble, returning to the pits with an engine problem that, despite the team’s endeavours, refused to be resolved.

“Sergio’s lap times suddenly began tailing off, to the point where he was lapping some seven seconds slower than we had in qualifying” Findlay explained, “Although he pitted and refuelled as normal, it was clear that there was something wrong with the engine, which didn’t appear to be talking to the ECU, which resulted in damage to the spark plugs. All three Graff cars suffered similar problems early in the race, which is too much of a coincidence to pass off as bad luck.”

Despite his short afternoon, Findlay remains positive, with the next round taking place on Graff’s home circuit at Magny-Cours.

“My luck doesn’t seem to be changing, but I have faith that the team will sort this issue in time for the next race,” he noted, “Magny-Cours is a track they know very well, and we had an encouraging test there before the trip to Ricard, so I am optimistic. Qualifying showed what I am capable of, Franck is settling in well and we know we can bank on Sergio’s performance, so we certainly aren’t giving up.”

Round six of the 2015 VdeV Series takes place over six hours at Magny-Cours in central France over the weekend of 9-11 October.

Garry’s 12 Hours over before it begins