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Boyd's title defence gets stuck in the pits


Beaming: Strong BMW performance by Daniel Harper

Beaming: Strong BMW performance by Daniel Harper

Beaming: Strong BMW performance by Daniel Harper

It was not the start to the defence of his European Le Mans LMP3 Championship Wayne Boyd had hoped for or expected.

He and United Autosport team-mates Rob Wheldon and Edouard Cauhaupe finished well down the field in the opening round of the series after their Ligier-Nissan prototype was delayed in the pits early in the four-hour race at the Catalunya circuit in Barcelona.

For once Boyd missed out on pole position during qualifying, being edged back into third place on the grid. But from the lights Wheldon rapidly moved to the front of the field and was still ahead as he brought the car in for a first fuel stop.

As he prepared to re-join the track the Ligier wouldn't re-start and five laps were lost as the United engineers coaxed it back to life.

Thereafter it ran smoothly to the end but 19-year-old French newcomer Cauhaupe and Boyd were well out of the hunt, the Ulsterman bringing it home in 13th place.

United, the reigning LMP2 champions, were also beaten in the overall standings, Phil Hanson, Tom Gamble and Jonathan Aberdein finishing third after dropping a lap behind early in the race.

There was trouble, too, for Charlie Eastwood making his LMP2 debut with the new Racing Team Turkey.

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The TF Sport-run Oreca he shared with his World Endurance Aston Martin team-mate Salih Yuloc and Harry Tincknell suffered mechanical problems, spending numerous laps in the pits and finishing over 20 laps down on the winning WRT Racing Oreca of Louis Deletraz, Yifel Ye and former F1 driver Robert Kubica.

Boyd at least had some consolation with third place alongside American John Schaeurman in the secondary Michelin Cup race.

Meanwhile, Daniel Harper proved the stand-out performer as the Nürburgring endurance series finally got under way at the Nordschleife circuit.

The first race was called off because of snow but on Saturday Harper stepped up to the BMW Junior team's GT3 BMW M6 alongside Max Hesse and Neil Verhagen. They were also joined for the four-hour race by experienced Brazilian Augusto Farfus, a BMW factory driver.

They finished in eighth place but during his stint after taking over from Farfus, Harper took advantage of the pit stop sequence to climb to second place, becoming the first of the Junior drivers to lap the 14-mile circuit in under eight minutes.

"Super happy to pick up a strong top 10 finish today! It's clear we've got some great pace in the car," he tweeted.

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