Dundee racer Hutchison and team-mate Daniel McKay got the championship curtain-raiser off to an outstanding start on Saturday, 31st March, with the Equipe Verschuur duo lapping fastest in their respective qualifying sessions to secure a dream double pole position for rounds one and two.
As a result of an unfortunate procedural error, though, the drivers participated in the incorrect session. With regulations dictating their hard-earned qualifying laps had to be removed, the result was back-of-the-grid starts for the two scheduled races in the No.10 McLaren 570S.
Facing a major challenge from 22nd on the GT4 grid, the team-mates both performed well in a wet opening round at Oulton’s full length International Circuit and concluded the 60-minute contest 12th in GT4 and eighth in the Silver class.
Aiming for a repeat, at least, in round two later in the day, with the weather over Oulton Park worsening and the track surface becoming increasingly treacherous, officials ultimately made the decision to abandon the second encounter and the remainder of the race meeting.
“It was a tough weekend in the end with the result, we proved we were quick enough to be on pole for both races, but it’s a very promising weekend too for that reason”, reflected Hutchison, “The car was quick, fantastic to drive in all conditions, and the guys at Equipe Verschuur did a great job.
“The admin error from qualifying was unfortunate, obviously, as we should have been challenging for the podium, but it’s one of those things you can’t do anything about. Finishing eighth in Silver in the first race from the back was good, it’s a shame the second race didn’t happen but I do understand why the decision was made, Oulton Park is a very unforgiving track at the best of times.”
McKay took the opening stint for race one of the season, which began behind the Safety Car due to the very wet track conditions, and when the action proper got underway on lap five he started to make good progress.
Moving up through the GT4 order, the Scotsman had broken into the top 10 by the end of lap 11 and when the pit-stop window for driver changes opened at the 25-minute mark McKay remained on track. Eventually pitting from eighth in GT4 and eighth in the Silver Class, the No.10 McLaren was then handed over to Hutchison with just over half an hour remaining.
Joining the encounter 12th in GT4 and eighth in Silver, the Dundee teenager had an unenviable task in the still tricky conditions with 15 seconds to make up to the next target car – all the while having to keep an eye on his mirrors too for GT3 class cars lapping the GT4 runners.
Picking up his pace into the final 15 minutes, Hutchison circulated faster than a number of GT4 rivals ahead and the Hutchison Technologies, Evoson and In Home Displays supported driver did manage to cut the gap to the pack ahead by half. Eventually finishing 12th in GT4 and eighth in Silver, he also achieved the squad’s fastest lap on the final lap – a time of 1m54.572 seconds.
Hutchison climbed behind the wheel of the McLaren for the opening stint of round two later in the day, which began in the worst wet weather of the weekend. As in round one the encounter began behind the Safety Car but, after 12 minutes, officials chose to red flag proceedings. After a lengthy delay, and with conditions not improving, the decision was made to abandon the event.
Having dried out from the Oulton Park downpours, Hutchison now travels to Zolder in Belgium in readiness for the championship curtain-raiser of the GT4 European Series this coming weekend, 7th/8th April, where he will partner Ricardo van der Ende in a sister Equipe Verschuur McLaren.
“I’m really looking forward to Zolder now, especially as it’s expected to be about 20 degrees – a bit warmer and drier than Oulton was!”, said the Scot, “It’s going to be great teaming with Ricardo and after being so quick in qualifying this weekend in British GT, I’m confident we’ll be competitive when we get to Belgium.”
After the GT4 European Series opener, the second race meeting of the British GT4 season will follow on 28th/29th April at Rockingham International Super Sportscar Circuit in Northamptonshire.