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Garry Findlay left a lasting impression on multiple VdeV sportscar series champion CD Sport with a battling performance in adversity during the season finale at Estoril.

The Briton agreed a late deal to join the Palmyr-based outfit in a bid to build on earlier appearances with UK squad G-Cat Racing and, hopefully, set out his stall for a full-time ride in 2014, but faced the added difficulty of driving an unfamiliar car on a circuit he had never visited before.

Sharing the #4 machine in CD’s four-car entry, Findlay was teamed with two French series veterans, knowing that the squad had the pedigree to run at the front of the field, and that the Norma chassis he would drive had been the class of field in recent VdeV campaigns. With a practice session under his belt to learn the nuances of both car and track, and fourth place on the timesheets to boost his confidence, qualifying further confirmed Findlay’s optimism, as the #4 crew posted the sixth-fastest time to secure a place on row three of the grid.

“We could have been third!” the Briton claimed, “The team and car were everything I’d hoped they’d be, and practice showed that, as a crew, we had the pace to line up at the front, but I had another car spin right in front of me and that caused me to back off on what could have been a faster lap than we’d already posted… Having said that, however, sixth was still a great effort, and put us in a good position to fight for the podium.”

With his team-mates taking the first two stints in the six-hour event, Findlay had to bide his time before getting back into the cockpit on raceday, but things started promisingly for the #4 as Kevin Besancon moved quickly into third spot and held the position for most of his spell behind the wheel. It took the appearance of the safety car towards the end of the Frenchman’s stint to dislodge him from a provisional podium spot, with a rash of opportunist pit-stops shuffling the order and leaving the CD entry in fifth place.

The handover to Ines Taittinger dropped the car another spot, but it continued to run competitively with a comfortable cushion to the nearest threat through much of the mid-part of the race. An error late in the stint, however, would alter the complexion of Findlay’s run considerably.

“One of the quirks of the Norma is that you have to pump the brakes to ensure that you have pressure there when you need it,” he revealed, “Ines, in the heat of the moment, forgot to do that and when she next needed to brake heavily, found that she couldn’t stop.”

The Briton climbed aboard with the CD mechanics still clearing gravel from in and around the car, knowing that the podium finish that had looked possible early on was now nothing more than a distant dream. Despite that, however, he knew that he still had the opportunity to impress and build his reputation ahead of next season.

“The accident definitely meant that it was game over as far as a decent result was concerned,” Findlay confirmed, “but there was still a race to run, and I had the time to make some progress back up the order.”

Fortunately, the #4 had not been too badly damaged by its excursion through the gravel trap, and its new driver was immediately able to press on. For much of his run, despite being on old tyres and with more than 100 laps of general wear and tear on the clock, the former Formula Ford racewinner was able to record the fastest laps of those on track at that time, and rarely dropped out of the top three pacesetters before bringing the car home in an unrepresentative 15th place.

“It’s such a shame that we couldn’t finish the race as we had started it – but that’s racing,” Findlay sighed, “For much of the first two stints, we looked very competitive, but it only takes one moment to turn a race on its head. Fortunately, I was still able to get out on track, and did what I could to give the team a decent finish.

“From a personal point of view, there are a lot of positives to take from the event, particularly as I was able to lap quicker than drivers with a lot more experience than me – including former GP2 and Le Mans race winner Olivier Pla! The team appears to have been happy with my performance too, particularly given my lack of ‘seat time’ over the past few seasons. They have said that they definitely want to talk about doing something together next year and that, more than anything, was the point of racing in Portugal – to try and sell what I can offer for 2014. Now it’s a waiting game to see if we can put something together.”