Proving their capability of challenging for the GT4 podium with outstanding pace in rounds four and five, including the fastest lap in the second encounter, a catalogue of unfortunate occurrences meant the duo had to settle for a best of seventh place in race one, fourth in the Silver Cup.
On course for a very realistic class and outright podium bid in race two at the 2.97-mile Norfolk track, any hopes unravelled following a drive-through penalty for McKay prior to the mid-race driver change. Adding insult to injury, Hutchison was then forced to retire the No.10 McLaren 570S during the closing stages of the one hour contest.
“I think, from a driving point of view, we did a really good job this weekend and were just very unfortunate yet again”, said 18-year-old Dundee racer Hutchison, “It’s almost like we’re cursed this season, things have gone against us each weekend but we know we have the capability and pace to be fighting for the podium.
“The handling of the car was great, but we are lacking on power compared to the other McLarens and that obviously makes things tricky in the races at a track like Snetterton with the long straights. It’s been a frustrating weekend but, overall, I was happy with my performance.”
Making a pleasingly strong start to the weekend in both Free Practice sessions on Saturday, the No.10 McLaren was fifth in GT4 in the opening run with McKay at the wheel and Hutchison then steered the 570S to second fastest in session two – just 0.040 seconds shy of the outright pace.
Hutchison took the opening 10-minute qualifying session later in the afternoon, determining the grid for race one, and after setting the fourth fastest time on his first flying lap he went on to end the period eighth quickest. In the round five session, McKay had to settle for the 14th best time.
Disappointed with the qualifying outcome, but determined to charge through the order, Hutchison took the first stint of round four on Sunday morning and at the rolling start the Scotsman held an elevated seventh place in GT4 due to the Toyota GT86 of Tom Canning having headed to the pits.
Over the course of a strong first lap Hutchison climbed into the top six and quickly began to pressurise the similar McLaren of Lewis Proctor. Just a few tenths of a second shy lap after lap, the Hutchison Technologies, Evoson and In-Home Displays supported driver made the breakthrough on lap seven to grab fifth in GT4.
As the first quarter of an hour concluded, Hutchison closed to within 1.5 seconds of the McLaren of Michael O’Brien before the Safety Car was deployed. The driver-change window then opened while racing was under caution and almost the entire grid pitted, resulting in a very busy pitlane.
Hutchison handed over to McKay who, after the race order settled and the Safety Car departed, held eighth place in GT4 with around half an hour to run. On lap 14, though, the No.42 BMW made the most of its superior straight-line speed to edge McKay down to ninth in GT4 and fourth in Silver.
With 20 minutes left, a stop-go penalty for one of the Jaguars elevated McKay back up into eighth in GT4 and a pit-stop eight minutes later for the No.53 Nissan enabled the Scot to move into seventh overall. Picking up his pace during the closing stages, he edged to within 0.3 seconds of the BMW M4 and at the chequered flag on lap 28 was just 0.2 seconds shy.
McKay started round five later in the day, in windier conditions, from 14th in GT4 and after putting together a very strong opening lap he was able to carve his way through into eighth place, fifth in the Silver Cup, despite being slightly delayed out of Agostini when two cars tangled.
With the aforementioned incident triggering the deployment of the Safety Car, racing resumed on lap five with 10 minutes elapsed and McKay edged into seventh in GT4 and fourth in Silver at the re-start ahead of Jan Jonck’s Aston Martin.
Continuing his march forward, McKay took sixth in GT4 on lap six and latched onto the cars ahead and then, at the 20-minute mark, an unfortunate tangle between McKay and the No.42 BMW resulted in a spin for the latter – the McLaren moving up into fifth in GT4 and third in Silver.
Soon after, though, their challenge came undone when McKay was hit with a drive-through penalty after officials declared he had nosed ahead of Jonck a fraction before the start line following the earlier Safety Car re-start. Wrecking any hopes of a podium bid, McKay served the stop at the end of lap 12 and he then returned to the pits a lap later for the mid-race driver-change.
Hutchison joined the action with half an hour to go holding 18th in GT4 and with an unenviable task, running a lap down on the category leaders. Lapping markedly quicker than the group of cars ahead, the fired-up youngster did everything he could during his stint to recover as much ground as possible and he held 16th overall and eighth in Silver into the final 20 minutes.
As the race entered the final quarter of an hour, Hutchison had gained two more positions overall and circulated with absolute blinding speed to lap more than two seconds per lap quicker than the drivers ahead.
With 10 minutes to run, the Scot had climbed into 13th in GT4, seventh in Silver, and he then broke into the GT4 top 12 but, with just a couple of laps to run, enforced retirement compounded an incredibly frustrating weekend.
Round six of the British GT4 Championship season, the longest race of the year at three hours in duration, will take place at Silverstone Grand Prix Circuit in Northamptonshire on Sunday, 10th June.
2018 British GT4 Championship Standings (after Rd5)
=14th Finlay Hutchison/Daniel McKay & Mike Newbould/Will Burns, 18pts
2018 British GT4 Championship ‘Silver Cup’ Standings (after Rd5)
9th Finlay Hutchison/Daniel McKay, 35pts