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British sportscar racer Garry Findlay was left to rue a minor technical gremlin after his late-race push for the podium ended in retirement at the opening round of the 2014 VdeV Series.

Findlay, along with CD Sport team-mates Ines Taittinger and Kevin Besancon, had been a force throughout the six-hour race at Barcelona’s Circuit de Catalunya, building on a similarly impressive VdeV debut at Estoril towards the end of 2013. Having secured a season-long deal with reigning champions CD, the Briton again showed strong pace in both qualifying and race, but was ultimately left empty-handed when silverware appeared a distinct possibility.

The weekend, the first of seven on the VdeV Endurance Protos slate for 2014, began promisingly for the #32 machine, with a series of top seven times in practice highlighted by the number one spot in the opening session of the event. Qualifying only served to confirm the squad’s potential, as the average time from all three drivers was good enough to annex the inside of row two, just a matter of tenths behind the pace-setting Equipe Palmyr cars and best placed of CD’s four-strong entry.

“VdeV has a quirky qualifying system, which utilises the best lap from each driver in the car, but it seemed to work well for us on this occasion,” Findlay commented, “We were all pretty well matched, which bodes well for a consistent performance going forward.”

Given the honour of starting the race, Findlay held on to third spot as the field was unleashed, but was denied the opportunity to make an early push towards the front as the safety car appeared to cover the clear-up of a first corner accident. The delay was compounded by another incident at the last corner as backmarkers came together, caught out by the sudden slowing of the pace, but Findlay kept his concentration ahead of the restart and was quickly on the move once the green lights returned.

Showing the sort of pace that characterised his previous single-seater career, the Briton was soon overhauling the cars ahead of him, taking the lead within a few laps of the restart,. Despite still getting to grips with the unfamiliar Norma chassis under him, Findlay was then able to pull out a gap of around 25 seconds before the end of his 110-minute stint.

A steady run from Taittinger was followed by some rapid laps from Besancon, but the CD car had dropped to fourth place by the time Findlay returned to the cockpit for the run to the flag. Quickly up to speed, the Suffolk resident began to eat into the gap between himself and third place, but his progress was interrupted when an alarm sounded on the dash as he was exiting from one of the series-mandated pit visits.

Although he was able to rejoin the race and continue for several laps, the problem soon returned and, with just 15 minutes left on the clock, Findlay was advised to park the #32 to prevent any further damage to the engine. Having been in pursuit of a potential maiden podium, the Briton could only watch as the chasing pack made up ground, demoting the CD Sport entry to an unrepresentative ninth at the chequered flag.

“It is a frustrating result at the end of such a strong weekend, but there is nothing we can do about it,” Findlay sighed, “The same problem affected all of the team’s cars at some point, so they will go away and try to find what caused it so that we can come back fighting for round two.

“There are still a lot of positives to take from Barcelona, and I was particularly happy with my pace in a car that I am still learning about. It was good to be able to lead a race again – it has been a while since I last did that – and I know that I can more than hold my own in this series, despite there being strong competition throughout the field. I’m already looking forward to the next race, and being able to convert our performance into the sort of result it deserves.”

Round two of the 2014 VdeV Series takes place over three hours at the Le Mans Bugatti circuit in France on the weekend of 18-20 April.