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Garry Findlay continued to suffer at the hand of fate as his third outing in the 2014 VdeV endurance series followed a similar road to rounds one and two.

Having seen a podium challenge cut short in the closing minutes of the season-opener in Barcelona and a pole position effort undone by mechanical problems at Le Mans, the Briton was hoping for a change of fortune at Paul Ricard. However, despite again coming out on top in qualifying, the #32 CD Sport entry ran into problems in a race that featured several safety car interruptions because of the weather conditions.

Having raced previously at Paul Ricard, Findlay was quickly able to get into his stride and helped keep the car in the top four positions throughout practice. Then, despite having just four laps behind the wheel, and a reasonable amount of fuel on board, he posted the fastest time amongst the three-driver crew in qualifying, ensuring that, even when the best time from each driver was averaged out, the #32 remained out front, claiming its second pole position at the head of a CD Sport 1-2-3 in as many races.

“I’m quite chuffed to have been fastest as I didn’t have a great number of laps and, going out first, I was carrying a decent amount of fuel in the car,” Findlay commented, “With my team-mates again doing good times as well, it was enough to put us at the front of the grid, just as we were at Le Mans, and shows the potential of the #32 in a competitive field.”

Nominated to start the race ahead of scheduled hand-overs to co-drivers Kevin Besancon and Ines Taittinger, Findlay was surprised to see the typically warm and sunny Mediterranean weather take a turn for the worse as he headed to the grid on Saturday afternoon. With ominously dark clouds replacing the previous blue skies, it was inevitable that rain would play a part in proceedings, and the first drops began to fall as the cars headed out on their formation lap.

With only the first two sectors initially affected, however, Findlay and the team opted to remain on slick tyres as wet weather rubber would not have lasted long on the drier sections of the lap. Despite the race starting behind the safety car, the tactic appeared to pay off as the former single-seater ace steadily pulled out an advantage at the front of the field. Although the track remained treacherous for over an hour, Findlay carefully amassed a 16-second lead over his nearest rival before finally pitting for ‘wets’ as the rain got heavier. With thunder and lightning adding to the spectacle, the Briton continued to extend his advantage, stretching the gap to just over 20 seconds as he neared the end of his two-hour-plus stint.

Even as he was preparing to hand over to Besancon, however, all of Findlay’s work was undone, as race organisers decided that, with the rain intensifying again, there was no option but to deploy the safety car. The handover to Besancon was completed without the #32 losing its lead, but the Frenchman then spent much of his stint behind the safety car, which seemed to appear each time he threatened to rebuild the advantage.

Without a cushion of note to hand to Taittinger, the team dropped to second place during the change of driver, and lost another place before the track dried sufficiently to warrant a return to slicks. Taittinger was the caught up in contact with another car, leaving the #32 in need of repair and effectively conceding any hope of a podium finish. At the end of the six hours, the team had dropped to an unrepresentative 15th position, eight laps off the leading crew.

“We must have led the race for more than four-and-a-half hours, so the final result is a little frustrating,” Finlay admitted, “However, I’m coming to understand that this is the nature of endurance racing, perhaps even more than it was in single-seaters. It was tough, mentally, to drive in the conditions, which changed frequently. There were a few ‘moments’ out there, and  I realise that the stewards had no option but to send the safety car out, especially when it became hard to define the track limits because of the amount of standing water!

“We have to keep looking at the positives, and there were a lot to take away from this race – the car is handling much better now than it was in the first two rounds, we’ve taken pole position twice in a row and we’re clearly a quick team. It’s only a matter of time before we finish on the podium, but we just need a little luck to pull everything together.

“On a personal note, I am very pleased with the way I am driving. I’m obviously on the pace – and getting faster all the time – and that has led to a lot of positive comments in the paddock. Others are clearly taking note of what I can do and that is one of the reasons for coming to this series.”

Round four of the 2014 VdeV Series takes place over three hours at Dijon-Prenois in eastern France over the weekend of 27-29 June.