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Garry Findlay’s bid to return to the VdeV endurance series podium was dealt a cruel blow in the longest race of the season so far, as a suspension failure halted his charge from the rear of the grid in the Aragon 9 Hours..

Boosted by late promotion into the top three at the previous round, the #32 CD Sport had high hopes when the series resumed after a lengthy mid-summer break, but first had to overcome the fresh handicap of its British star now being rated as an ‘elite’ driver. With team-mate Kevin Besancon already carrying similar status, the three-driver crew would have to rely on the average time of just two of its number, including remaining pilot Ines Taittinger.

Determining the best qualifying combination was a minor headache for the CD team, however, as it struggled to find the best set-up for the tricky Motorland Aragon circuit, leaving the #32 well down the order as the teams lined up for the day-night event.

“We knew that qualifying would be tougher under the revised conditions at the remaining few races” Findlay commented, “but we were already on the back foot as we couldn’t pin down the ideal set-up for the car. The car was much too stiff as a result and, in the end, the problem appeared to stem from the fact that previous rounds had been held in much cooler – and often wet – conditions, while temperatures at Aragon were around double that, up around 30 degrees….”

Despite lining up a lowly 23rd on the grid, the team went into the race confident that it had moved the set-up in a positive direction, with one eye on making its tyres last longer than the one lap they had been managing in practice and qualifying. As she had at Dijon, Taittinger started the race, knowing that there would be less pressure in coming from the rear of the field and aiming for consistency above all else.

The Belgian completed her task in an hour and 45 minutes behind the wheel, before Findlay took over for what should have been a lengthy first stint taking the team through towards the halfway point of the race. Sadly for the Briton, however, a rear suspension failure just half an hour into his run sent the #32 back to the pits for repairs.

“The lower left wishbone just gave way,” Findlay reported, “Obviously, there was no way that I could carry on and having to pit halted the progress I was making. We may only have climbed to 18th by the time the problem struck, but I was definitely in touch with the big group ahead and reckon that there were a lot of positions for the taking had the car held together. Instead, we lost around 25 minutes while the team repaired the suspension and it was effectively ‘game over’ after only three hours.”

Determined to get something out of the weekend, Findlay immediately began setting impressive times as soon as he returned to the track, lapping faster than anyone else on track for the majority of his stint, before handing the car back to Taittinger. Besancon took over as the race moved into its second half, and continued to share the driving with Findlay as the pair took responsibility for tackling the night hours. The #32 continued to make steady progress through the field before time ran out and the Frenchman took the chequered flag in an unrepresentative twelfth position.

“Things were good once I got back on track, but we were racing mainly for pride by that point,” Findlay claimed, “I was able to put in some decent times and was as fast as anyone, but there was just too much ground to make up. Had everything gone to plan, I think third or fourth place would have been possible based on our collective lap times, so we’ll just have to take that and use it as a boost going to Magny-Cours for the next race.”

The CD Sport team will test at Barcelona’s Circuit de Catalunya ahead of round six at the former French Grand Prix venue, and Findlay is confident that there is still time to return to the top three overall before the season concludes.

“We definitely have the ability behind the wheel,” he confirmed, “This is the time of year where I need some decent results to help secure something for 2015. This has been very much a learning year, but I think I’ve ruffled a few feathers with my pace and, should I come back next year, I’ll have the benefit of knowing the tracks. Hopefully, I can put something in place before the end of the season, and another podium or two wouldn’t go amiss.”

Round six of the 2014 VdeV Series takes place over six hours at Magny-Cours in central France Spain over the weekend of 10-12 October.