Gearbox Failure Leaves Mountain To Climb For Hutchison At Spa 24hrs

Scotland's Finlay Hutchison and Team WRT team-mates Menchaca and Proctor post hard-earned race finish
Championship:
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Date:
August 1, 2022

Gearbox Failure Leaves Mountain To Climb For Hutchison At Spa 24hrs

Scotland's Finlay Hutchison and Team WRT team-mates Menchaca and Proctor post hard-earned race finish

Finlay Hutchison, Diego Menchaca and Lewis Proctor battled the odds in the biggest race of the season, the TotalEnergies 24 Hours of Spa, overcoming a wheel-bearing issue late in the race and an early gearbox failure to reach the chequered flag and post a top 10 finish in the Silver Cup.

Marking Dundee racer Hutchison’s first ever race finish in the twice-round-the-clock blue riband event, round three of the Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe Powered by AWS Endurance Cup, the Team WRT trio departed Belgium on Sunday, 31st July, eighth in the Silver Cup class standings.

Carrying realistic hopes into the race meeting of mounting a podium challenge in the Silver category, having claimed third place in the previous event at Paul Ricard in France, instead 22-year-old Hutchison and his team-mates had to be satisfied with salvaging a nonetheless hard-earned finish at the wheel of their No.31 Audi R8 LMS GT3 EVO II.

“I am a bit disappointed to be honest as we’d hoped for a strong result, and were on the pace of the top guys throughout the race, but there were just too many issues for us unfortunately”, reflected Hutchison, “About four hours into the race we had the gearbox failure and that did the damage, then in my last stint we had a wheel bearing failure.

“It’s so unusual to have a problem with the gearbox, they’re one of the strongest points of the Audi, so I can’t believe that went! Actually the wheel bearing failure was a bit scary, at the Bus Stop chicane I first noticed something as the brake went to the floor – there was no front-left wheel speed sensor, so no ABS, and I had huge brake pad knock-off as well.

“Apart from the mechanical issues the car was awesome to drive, and the guys in the team did a fantastic job to get the gearbox repaired as quickly as they did. It’s a shame how the race turned out for us as we had a good chance of a strong result, but everyone did the best job they could.”

Qualifying ninth in the Silver Cup and 33rd overall, from the immense 66-car entry, the Team WRT trio ran a schedule of double-stinting throughout the race with each of the team-mates running in blocks of roughly two hours.

Mexican racer Menchaca took the start of the race and by the end of the opening hour he was into sixth in Silver and 29th overall. Through a series of Full Course Yellow cautionary periods and Safety Cars, the squad remained in contention and when Proctor got behind the wheel of the Audi for his first stint he held 10th in Silver.

Around four hours into the race, though, the gearbox failed which triggered lengthy repairs in the pits to try and get the No.31 car back into the race. Working impressively, the WRT mechanics did a fantastic job and although any hopes of a strong result were long since gone, so early in the race, the drivers still pushed as hard as possible through the night.

The race was then red flagged around 02.00 local time after a car made heavy contact with the Blanchimont barriers. After the resumption, Hutchison, Menchaca and Proctor continued to run very competitively during the small hours and as daybreak arrived over Spa-Francorchamps.

With around four hours to go Hutchison was at the wheel and running in 10th place in Silver, before the wheel bearing issue arose, and Proctor then got back behind the wheel for the run to the flag at 16.45 local time.

“We would have loved to keep the momentum from Paul Ricard going, but it wasn’t to be”, said Hutchison, “There are a lot of positives we can take away from this weekend though, all three of us had very strong pace and the car was handling brilliantly. Hopefully we can take this forward to Hockenheim now and hit back there.”

Race four of the GTWCE Endurance Cup season will take place on Sunday, 4th September, at Germany’s Hockenheimring.

2022 GT World Challenge Europe Endurance Cup – Silver Cup Standings

8th Finlay Hutchison/Diego Menchaca/Lewis Proctor, 24pts

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