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Garry Findlay’s debut season in the VdeV sportscar series ended in disappointment as the #32 CD Sport entry was forced into retirement at the final round in Portugal.

Returning to the circuit where he made his series debut at the end of 2013, Findlay hoped that familiarity and the confidence borne of a second podium appearance of the season at the previous round would stand the team in good stead and, initially, things looked good as Findlay and co-drivers Kevin Besancon and Ines Taittinger showed good pace in practice. When qualifying came around, however, conditions had changed, with the Estoril circuit falling victim to a passing rainstorm.

Unsure exactly how wet the road was, the team decided that Findlay was the man to send out, due to his greater experience of racing in the rain, and the move appeared to pay off as he posted competitive times from the start of the session. With all three drivers required to drive in the qualifying session, however, Findlay could not remain behind the wheel throughout, and handing over to Besancon and Taittinger failed to yield an improvement in performance.

“Even though the car was good when the track was at it wettest, as it dried out it was clear that the set-up wasn’t right,” Findlay explained, “Although the track was faster, the car didn’t go any quicker and, as a result, we slid down the order.”

Taittinger was entrusted with the start only for the rain to return just before the field was unleashed. That resulted in the field following the safety car for the first four laps but, having got a feel for the conditions, the Belgian held her own when the pack was unleashed, and then gradually made progress up the order as the weather improved.

Findlay took over with the CD Sport car in twelfth place but, having only taken on fuel, the #32 proved to be hard work in the still tricky conditions. Despite that, he still proved to be the quickest runner on track during his stint before making another stop, this time for both fuel and a change to slick tyres. Having risen into the top three before the stop, and rejoined in front of the leader, the #32 was looking good for another podium finish – only for the engine to die rounding the final corner midway through the stint.

“It went from full power to no power in an instant,” Findlay recalled, “and it couldn’t have picked a worse place to fail as I had already passed the pit entry! I managed to do a master switch reset, but it was still cutting in and out as I came down pit-lane. Then it fired again so I rejoined – only for the engine to cut again midway around the next lap!”

Returning to the pits once again, the CD Sport team wheeled the car back into the garage, its podium chances gone as it lost more time working on a repair. With time up on his stint, Findlay handed over to Besancon, but the Frenchman’s race lasted only 45 minutes before the problem returned and the team decided that enough was enough.

 “We had lost so much time, and so much ground, that there was no chance of getting a podium, and the repair would have taken us even further out of contention,” Findlay acknowledged, “It was looking good until the problem struck, as we’d completed all of the major pit-stops and were running comfortably on course for the top three – maybe even first place!

“It was a shame as we were all driving well. Ines has taken a big step forward in the last three rounds and Kevin has been on his game all season. We have had a few problems this year that probably cost us a podium or two, but the team think that they’ve found the cause. If they’re right, we’ll definitely be a team to beat next year!”

Although he has nothing concrete in place for 2015, Findlay is keen to remain with CD Sport, and the feeling appears mutual.

“I think the team is looking for us to work together again next year, and that is both exciting and encouraging,” he said, “We have been on the pace everywhere and are a good line-up, so there is the potential to be in the top three overall in 2015”

The 2015 VdeV Series kicks off in Barcelona over the weekend of 20-22 March and continues over seven rounds through to Estoril in November.

Final round frustration for Garry