Teaming with Mexico’s Diego Menchaca and fellow Scottish driver Lewis Proctor, 22-year-old Hutchison set the wheels in motion for the trio’s podium challenge with a strong and competitive opening stint of the six-hour ‘into the night’ race in the south of France.
Unfortunately feeling quite ill after departing the car due to a lingering bug, Hutchison was unable to undertake his scheduled second stint later in the race so Proctor and Menchaca then had to split the remaining driving time between themselves.
In the end, fantastic stints from all three drivers and a reliable No.31 Team WRT Audi R8 LMS GT3 EVO II made sure the trio were able to take the chequered flag at midnight local time in third place in the Silver Cup – having begun the encounter ninth in class.
“It really is fantastic to be back on the GT World Challenge podium”, said a very happy Hutchison, “Diego and Lewis did a good job and the guys at WRT gave us a good, competitive car. It was really hot in the car, it’s been a long time since I’ve been that hot in a racing car, but we got the result we’ve all been working so hard for.
“Hopefully this will energise us for Spa, carry on the momentum and keep on it to move further up the championship. My first aim at Spa is to actually finish the 24 hour for the first time in my life! After that, the big aim is to battle for the podium again and take away as many points as we can.”
Working on set-up, as usual, during practice and pre-qualifying on Friday, 3rd June, the WRT trio concluded the latter 10th fastest in the Silver Cup before then improving to ninth in Silver during final qualifying on Saturday morning – just half a second shy of the class top three. Hutchison was badly baulked on several of his qualifying laps, preventing a higher grid slot for the race.
Starting 28th overall on the 54-car grid, the Dundee racer took the start of the Paul Ricard 1,000km at 18.00 local time and put together a strong opening lap. Gaining three overall places prior to the emergence of the Safety Car on lap two, when racing resumed at around the 10-minute mark the Scotsman was seventh in Silver and 25th overall.
Breaking into the Silver Cup top six soon after, Hutchison moved closer and closer to the outright top 20 as the end of the opening hour approached and although slipping to seventh in class he soon reclaimed the place. Pitting for the first stop pretty much bang on the end of the first hour, Proctor climbed behind the wheel of the Audi R8 and emerged fifth in Silver and in 21st place overall.
Later in hour two a heavy excursion for the No.14 Lamborghini resulted in a lengthy Full Course Yellow cautionary period, and so Proctor took the opportunity to pit from fourth in Silver and the outright top 15. Remaining behind the wheel for a double-stint, Proctor was fourth in Silver and 14th overall at the resumption on lap 60 and stayed on track until the halfway point of the race.
Handing over the car to Menchaca, the Mexican was fourth in class and 18th overall when the order settled and he remained in the fight for the Silver podium throughout the remainder of the race – a particularly impressive triple stint. Moving into third in Silver and the outright top 12 as the final hour approached, he ultimately finished third in class and in 14th position overall..
Additionally, the trio climbed up into fourth in the class championship standings and conclude the second weekend of the Endurance Cup season just a single point outside the top three – igniting their challenge in the title battle.
“We made good progress this weekend”, reflected Hutchison, “We started off out of the box really well, so that meant we could concentrate on fine tuning the car in practice rather than having to make big changes. I really am looking forward to Spa now.”
Round three of the GTWCE Endurance Cup, the TotalEnergies 24 Hours of Spa, will take place over the weekend 30th/31st July at Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium. Before then, two days of official testing will be held at Spa later this month, on Tuesday, 21st June, and Wednesday, 22nd June.
2022 GT World Challenge Europe Endurance Cup – Silver Cup Standings
4th Finlay Hutchison/Diego Menchaca/Lewis Proctor, 23pts