The 19-year-old Phoenix Racing driver, along with team-mates Kim-Luis Schramm and Ivan Pareras, salvaged a hard-fought top eight finish from the three-hour encounter after battling back superbly from an opening lap incident for Pareras which threatened to derail any chance of a points result.
Added to an issue in the last of the driver-change pit-stops, where the No.5 Audi R8 LMS GT3 EVO was in neutral rather than first gear as Hutchison readied to depart, and so lost the Scotsman a hat-full of positions, a strong final hour from the Blancpain rookie helped to limit the additional damage.
“Where we ended up from where we were halfway round the first lap, that wasn’t a bad result in the end”, said Hutchison, “The guys made a huge step with the car this weekend, it’s been a lot more driveable and we made some good overall progress with the performance of the Audi compared to the first round at Monza.
“Obviously, without the incident on the first lap, we had a good chance of a much stronger finish but it wasn’t Ivan’s fault. In the last pit-stop we lost a lot of positions with the car unexpectedly being in neutral when I went to leave the pits, but that’s just one of those things. Our focus from Silverstone is definitely on the good progress we have made with the car.”
Second points result of Endurance season equals ninth in Silver standings
Final qualifying on Sunday morning delivered eighth fastest in the Silver class for the Phoenix Racing trio, based on the combined times from the three sessions. Pareras ran first and was 10th fastest in a session impacted by a couple of red flag interruptions, while Schramm improved to second in session two and Hutchison was 10th again in the third and final run featuring some of the quickest drivers.
Pareras took the opening stint of the three-hour encounter and from eighth in Silver he made a good launch at the rolling start, before getting caught-up in a tangle with the No.22 Honda NSX as the field rounded Becketts. With a gap having been left by the Honda on the inside, Pareras seized the chance to attempt a pass but the door was then closed – leading to contact and a spin for the Audi.
Triggering a chain-reaction incident behind, the Safety Car was deployed and racing fell under caution with the Spaniard down in 12th position in Silver but a lowly 41st position overall. With a huge amount of work to do to recover the lost ground, Pareras set about the task at the re-start on lap eight and by the end of his stint at the conclusion of hour one he was back into the Silver top 10.
As several rival entries made their first mandatory pit-stops before the Phoenix squad, Pareras was able to climb into fifth in Silver before he pitted to hand over to Schramm – importantly, while the race was under Full Course Yellow conditions.
With the cautionary period providing the team with an opportunity to gain significant ground on those rivals who stopped earlier, Schramm headed out and joined the race in seventh position in Silver and the outright top 15.
When racing got back underway with an hour and 45 minutes to run, Schramm climbed through to sixth in class before another Full Course Yellow period was declared. Continuing to lap strongly after the resumption late in the second hour, he remained on track the longest before pitting and so moved through into the Silver lead and the outright top four.
Hutchison climbed behind the wheel of the Audi for the final stint, but as he prepared to depart the pits the car had erroneously been left in a neutral gear and the lost time meant the Scottish driver was only able to rejoin eighth in Silver and 25th overall.
Reeling off a string of quicker and quicker laps, the Hutchison Technologies, Evoson and In-Home Displays supported racer pushed hard to close the gap to the cars ahead. While able to gain a few overall positions before the chequered flag at the three-hour mark, he had to settle for eighth in Silver with the class rivals just too far in the distance after the final pit-stop drama.
Paul Ricard in France will host the third round of the Blancpain Endurance Cup, the annual six-hour ‘into the night’ race, on Saturday, 1st June, and although a track which isn’t expected to favour the Audi, Hutchison is still relishing the prospect of the eagerly awaited encounter.
“It’s going to be a long race and although Ricard is one of the weaker tracks we visit for the Audi, I’m still looking forward to it”, he commented, “It’ll be a tougher challenge than Silverstone, but we’ll go out there looking to do the very best we can – as we always do!.”
2019 Blancpain Endurance Cup ‘Silver Cup’ Standings
9th Finlay Hutchison/Kim-Luis Schramm/Ivan Pareras, 12pts