Home News Profile

Garry Findlay’s hopes of a strong result in round five of the European Le Mans Series were dashed before half-distance as his Murphy Prototypes LMP2 entry made a dramatic exit with the Briton at the wheel.

Findlay returned to the Murphy line-up after making his LMP2 debut with the team at Imola, joining Ireland’s Sean Doyle and newcomer Bruno Bonifacio in the #48 ORECA-Nissan 03R and hoping to improve on the tenth place he helped the team achieve  back in May. The early stages of the weekend were not easy, however, with brake issues and a tyre delamination interrupting the practice sessions even before a red flag halted Findlay’s attempts to complete a run on fresh rubber.

Qualifying was just as difficult, as a cracked piston in the #48’s Nissan engine cost the team valuable lap time, restricting it to tenth place on the grid when its earlier pace suggested a place several rows higher may have possible.

“It was always going to be tough jumping back into the car without any testing before the event, and having not driven at Spa since I raced in Formula Ford,”  26-year old Findlay admitted, “but the issues were struggled with through both practice and qualifying just made things harder. We were chasing the set-up throughout, and to lose time to tyre problems and a red flag, and then have the engine lose power, always meant that we were unlikely to fulfil our true potential. I think the car was good enough for at least sixth on the grid had things run smoothly, but the piston problem meant we were losing a second a lap to our rivals...”

Having been thwarted in his bid to push the green-and-white Murphy ORECA up the grid, Findlay was back behind the wheel for the start of the race on Sunday afternoon and, with a new engine installed, quickly had the #48 running in a more respectable position, just as he had at Imola. A good getaway was initially negated when he was pushed wide through the La Source hairpin, but Findlay began picking up places, getting as high as fourth before a routine first stop for fuel. Despite not planning to take fresh tyres at the same stop, the decision would come back to haunt the Murphy team towards the end of Findlay’s second and final stint as the ORECA snapped hard right on the exit of Les Combes and struck the armco with sufficient force to warrant a safety car to cover repairs to the barriers.

Sadly, there was no such reprieve for the #48, which was ruled out of any further part in the race, denying both Doyle and Bonifacio, the Brazilian having been waiting in the pits to take over from Findlay at the end of the lap.

“We don’t know exactly what happened, but it felt like a tyre failure as there was nothing I could do,” Findlay noted, “I had been on the radio, asking the team to rethink the strategy, for several laps, but hindsight is a wonderful thing. I’d been running out of grip for some time prior to the accident but, prior to that, had been able to get as high as fourth, and was running comfortably in fifth place, hanging on to drivers with much fresher rubber, so things were looking good..”

While the Murphy team was unable to show what might have been, Findlay insisted that he was happy with his own personal performance, especially after a couple of months out of the cockpit between LMP2 outings.

“This was possibly the toughest grid of the season and, like the team, I felt like I was punching above my weight all weekend,” he claimed, “Once I’d recovered from the moment at the first corner – which was hard but fair and something I’d probably have done myself – I was able to hang in with a group of drivers with recent F1 experience in Giedo van der Garde, Will Stevens and Vitaly Petrov, all of whom were driving the latest generation of coupes where the open-cockpit Murphy ORECA is definitely ‘old school’.

“The speed was definitely there, even on older tyres, so for the race to end as it did is a shame for the whole team. Everyone did a great job over the course of the weekend to get the car into a position to challenge as we did and I’m sure that the experience will be banked away for future races.”

Findlay’s programme for the rest of the season remains undecided, and the Briton is hoping to secure a deal to test over the winter with a view to securing a more significant campaign in 2017.

Dramatic exit denies Garry in Belgium