Dundee racer Hutchison had delivered an impressively strong first stint in Sunday afternoon’s expectedly dramatic two-hour encounter, progressing from ninth on the GT4 grid into the top four prior to the mid-race driver change pit-stop.
But a 10 second ‘success’ penalty in the pits, from the Equipe Verschuur duo’s podium finish last time out at Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium, and the addition of a late-race puncture when McKay was at the wheel of the No.10 McLaren 570S proved costly. In the end, the team-mates finished the eighth round of the season 11th overall in GT4 and fifth in the Silver class.
“I was pretty happy with my stint, I was P4 before handing over to Daniel and everything was going quite well”, said 18-year-old Hutchison, “We did have a little bit of luck with the Safety Car coming out, it helped close things up a bit, but we also struggled with the air pressure as it didn’t suit our car as much, the normally aspirated cars were stronger because of that.
“Our McLaren was very nimble, but the BOP [Balance of Performance] favoured the BMWs so it was tough trying to get on terms with those guys. Obviously, the puncture was disappointing but it’s one of those things and something we just need to bounce back from, as I know we will.”
Tale of two halves for Hutchison in 2hr Brands GP contest
Hutchison and McKay were certainly consistent in the all-important qualifying session for round eight on Saturday, setting the ninth fastest time in GT4 in their respective sessions and therefore securing ninth on the grid for round eight on combined times.
Taking the opening one-hour stint under glorious Kent skies and with track temperatures around 55 degrees, Hutchison made an excellent launch from the rolling start on Sunday afternoon and was able to stay out of trouble through Paddock Hill Bend and Druids. Heading to the outside into Graham Hill Bend, he found good space and was able to gain two positions to climb into seventh.
Closing onto the tail of the No.86 Toyota GT86, the Hutchison Technologies, Evoson and In-Home backed racer applied significant pressure and on lap four moved up again into sixth in GT4. Then setting his sights on the pair of Aston Martin V8 Vantage cars ahead, the Scotsman matched their lap times initially and by lap 10 he was within 0.3 seconds of the No.62 car.
Running tight to the back of the Aston, into lap 12 Hutchison got alongside Will Moore and made the pass to brilliantly move through into the GT4 top five. Moore, though, hit back on lap 14 as the battle continued with the added complication of the lead GT3 cars lapping the GT4 front-runners at the same time.
Threatening to cost the McLaren more time, Hutchison did a good job of minimising the impact and stayed within just a few tenths of his rival. Then, with just under half an hour of action complete, the Safety Car was deployed due to a GT4 Ginetta stranded in the gravel.
Racing resumed roughly five minutes later but no sooner had the action got back underway, the Safety Car was deployed once more following a collision on the pit-straight between a GT4 Jaguar and GT4 Ginetta – the action remaining under caution for another 15 minutes.
When racing did finally resume, Hutchison judged the re-start perfectly to nose alongside Moore as the field headed over the start-finish line but he had to tuck back in to sixth place. Swarming all over the Aston as the pit-stop window neared, on lap 30 he broke back into fifth and then passed the No.4 McLaren for fourth at Stirlings Bend moments before entering the pits to hand over to McKay.
With the 10 second ‘success’ time penalty to serve from the podium result achieved at Spa, McKay emerged from the pits ninth in GT4 and with 50 minutes to go he started to try and close the big gap of around 12 seconds to the car ahead.
Initially able to reduce the deficit to nine seconds, as the first half of McKay’s stint neared its end the Scot moved up into seventh in GT4 due to issues for a couple of rivals. Then, with 30 minutes of the race to go, the No.10 McLaren slowed as a result of a puncture – the cause of which is being investigated by Pirelli.
Losing significant time and having to head to the pits for a fresh tyre, McKay eventually went on to take the chequered flag 11th in GT4 and fifth in the Silver Cup, very much a weekend of what might have been for the Equipe Verschuur squad.
Donington Park Grand Prix Circuit in Leicestershire will host the two-hour finale of the British GT4 season over the weekend 22nd/23rd September. In the meantime, Hutchison will be back in action in the GT4 European Series with Dutch team-mate Ricardo van der Ende for the next two rounds of the season on 1st/2nd September at the Hungaroring in Hungary.
“It’s obviously been disappointing with the result this weekend, so we just need to try and finish the season on a high now at Donington”, said Hutchison, “I’m looking forward to the next round of GT4 Euro first though in Hungary, it’s a really nice track and I like racing there. I’ve obviously been there before in GT4 and in Formula Renault, so I’ve got some experience. Hopefully it’ll be good for us.”
Provisional 2018 British GT4 Championship Standings
13th Finlay Hutchison/Daniel McKay, 42pts
Provisional 2018 British GT4 ‘Silver Cup’ Championship Standings
7th Finlay Hutchison/Daniel McKay, 75.5pts