Undoubtedly the busiest race meeting of his career so far, the 18-year-old from Dundee contested a total of seven track sessions in the ‘SRO Speedweek’ event in his McLaren 570S, including three races – two 60-minute encounters in the GT4 European Series and a two-hour contest in British GT4.
Securing a fantastic second place with Ricardo van der Ende in the opening GT4 European contest on Sunday morning, their second podium of the campaign, Hutchison then made his first appearance on a British GT4 podium a couple of hours later with Daniel McKay in the 120-minute race.
“As Ricardo, Daniel and I are all ‘Silver’ graded drivers, the Balance of Performance was against us this weekend – we started the races with 165kg of ballast and 85kg of fuel which made the car more difficult to drive”, commented Hutchison, “It improved as we used the fuel, but it meant we were never going to be the fastest car out there. So, two podiums from the weekend isn’t bad at all.
“Overall, it was a really solid weekend and just disappointing not to get three podiums from the three races as the opportunity was there. It’s obviously great to get our first podium in the British championship with Daniel, it’s been a long time coming, and fantastic to be on the podium again in the European championship with Ricardo.”
He added: “There was a lot going on with racing in two championships and it was especially busy on Sunday. It felt similar to the 24-hour endurance races I have competed in, jumping in and out of a car and having to be ‘on it’ straight away. Everything worked well and the team did a great job. One surprise of the weekend, it didn’t rain – the forecast was for rain and it usually does at some point!”
Great performance in British GT4 delivers first series silverware
Performing strongly in GT4 European practice on Friday, 20th July, and also in the British GT4 sessions on Saturday, 21st July, Hutchison’s first qualifying duty of his immense weekend came in the British series where he posted the second fastest lap. Team-mate McKay was also second fastest in his run to solidify a front-row start for the British GT race – only 0.2 seconds shy of pole.
Hutchison took the opening stint and held second place before the action fell under caution as a result of contact among some of the GT3 runners. When the Safety Car returned to the pits at the end of lap four, the teenager made a good re-start and the Hutchison Technologies, Evoson and In-Home Displays supported racer swarmed all over the No.4 McLaren of Michael O’Brien.
Really pressuring as the opening half hour ended, Hutchison stayed within just a few tenths of a second of the GT4 leader and at the end of the first 60 minutes of action he was only 0.6 seconds adrift as the pit-stop window neared.
At the end of their 20th lap both O’Brien and Hutchison pitted for their respective driver changes and the No.10 McLaren, now with McKay behind the wheel, emerged from the pits still behind the rival car – although both rejoined the track behind the Safety Car which had been triggered when a GT3 Mercedes-AMG caught fire.
Due to the timing of the cautionary period, the No.43 BMW was able to take full advantage by pitting and re-entering the race ahead of the Safety Car to leapfrog both McLarens. McKay made a good re-start within just 0.5 seconds of the No.4 car but he wasn’t able to get on terms before the flag and settled for a strong and well deserved third place – their maiden British GT4 podium.
Second podium of Euro season for Hutchison & van der Ende
In GT4 European Series qualifying on Saturday afternoon, Hutchison took the race one session and posted the fifth fastest time of 2m33.150 seconds, fourth in the Silver Cup, while van der Ende matched the performance in session two, ensuring third row starts for both races.
Hutchison started round seven on Sunday morning and was edged back to sixth place before the Safety Car was deployed on lap three. When racing resumed a lap later, the Scottish racer stayed in the top six but on lap seven he was edged back another position by the Audi of Milan Dontje.
Pitting at the end of lap nine to serve the mandatory driver-change, Hutchison vacated the McLaren with van der Ende climbing aboard for the second half of the encounter. When all stops were completed, the Dutchman was in eighth position but he soon climbed through into the top six.
On lap 15, a great battle with the No.55 Ginetta and the No.35 Alpine worked in van der Ende’s favour as he swept past both to move up into fourth position and after piling on significant pressure to the BMW of Max Koebolt, he broke into the top three on lap 17. Following a stop-go penalty for the race leading Porsche, van der Ende assumed second place where he stayed to the conclusion.
For round eight later in the afternoon, van der Ende took the first stint and sliced his way through from fifth at the rolling start to climb into third on lap one. Under pressure from the Audi of Nicolaj Moller-Madsen for the first nine laps, van der Ende had some breathing space into lap 10 when the Audi driver lost time and slipped behind the No.33 Mercedes.
When second placed Stuart Middleton pitted just before the half-hour mark, the Dutchman moved up into the runner-up spot and van der Ende then took the lead when the No.35 Alpine pitted for its stop on lap 12.
Pitting the McLaren the next time around to hand over to Hutchison, no sooner had he joined the race than he had to pit again at the end of his ‘out lap’ due to a small fire breaking out in the Equipe Verschuur car due to a cracked exhaust – ending hopes of a likely GT4 European podium double.
Hutchison’s next race action will come during the eighth round of the British GT4 Championship season, which will be back on UK soil over the weekend 4th/5th August, at Brands Hatch Grand Prix Circuit in Kent. The next two races of the GT4 European Series campaign will be at the Hungaroring in Hungary on 1st/2nd September.
Provisional 2018 GT4 European Series ‘Silver Cup’ Standings
5th Finlay Hutchison/Ricardo van der Ende, 59pts
Provisional 2018 British GT4 Championship Standings
7th Finlay Hutchison/Daniel McKay, 60.5pts