Delivering outstanding race performances this year weekend in, weekend out, at the wheel of his McLaren 570S, with victories at Misano in Italy, Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium and Donington Park in the UK, the 18-year-old from Dundee now has his sights set on the end-of-year GT4 spectacular.
Inaugurated by SRO, organiser of British GT4 and the GT4 European Series, the GT4 international Cup will take place on Saturday, 1st December, at Bahrain International Circuit in the Middle East where Hutchison will team-up with fellow British driver Matt Nicoll-Jones.
Sharing a McLaren 570S, which is being entered and prepared by Jones’ Academy Motorsport squad, the duo will undoubtedly go into the event with a superb opportunity to challenge at the sharp end with both drivers more than proven in GT4 competition.
Forming part of the Bahrain GT Festival, which is headlined by the FIA GT Nations Cup, the GT4 action will be contested across two 60-minute qualification races and then an hour-long main event to determine the International Cup winner.
Notably, Hutchison will reunite with renowned race engineer Andy Miller who will be part of the team for the trip to Bahrain. Miller, who was Operations Director of the Stewart Grand Prix F1 team before becoming Director of Racing when the squad morphed into Jaguar Racing, worked with Hutchison during the youngster’s maiden season of car racing in Formula Renault in 2016.
“Racing at Bahrain is going to be really cool”, said Hutchison, “I’m looking forward to teaming-up with Matt, the International Cup will be the first time the Academy guys have run a McLaren but I know they’ll do a good job and, hopefully, we can have a strong weekend and mount a big challenge.
“Bahrain is a fantastic track, obviously Formula One standard, and it’s going to be great to be there as part of such a big event. It’s a good opportunity to get more experience and show what we can do on an international stage. I’m obviously delighted to be working with Andy [Miller] again too, he’s a fantastic engineer and we built a great relationship when I raced in Formula Renault.”
Scottish star reflects on hugely competitive second season in GT4
Hutchison’s second season in endurance racing this year has been nothing short of eye-catching and while major misfortune did prevent a championship bid in both British GT4 and the GT4 European Series, the teenager’s pace, ability and determination more than shone through.
His 2018 racing schedule actually began away from GT4, in a Chevrolet Corvette GT3 in fact at the Hankook Dubai 24 Hours where, with team-mates Luc Braams, Duncan Huisman, Rick Abresch and Alex van t’Hoff, the Scotsman finished second in the A6/AM class.
Hutchison’s GT4 campaign started with the opening two races of the British GT4 Championship at Oulton Park over Easter weekend, and he made an instantaneous impact on his category debut by scorching to a maiden pole position in his No.10 McLaren 570S.
Frustratingly, an unfortunate procedural error led to pole position being stripped away and that ultimately set some of the tone for the season to come. Managing to take a weekend best of eighth in the Silver class with team-mate Daniel McKay, the duo took fourth next time out at Rockingham in the first two-hour race and achieved a best of fourth in Silver again in the two Snetterton races.
During the flagship British event at Silverstone GP Circuit in June, the sole three-hour encounter of the season, a maiden victory looked all-but assured when suspension failure during the final third of the contest caused a galling retirement.
For the sole overseas event of the British campaign, the trip to Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium where Hutchison was also in action in the GT4 European Series on a very busy weekend, he and McKay took their first British GT4 podium with third position.
Misfortune reared its head again at Brands Hatch in August, a late-race puncture restricting the duo to fifth place in the Silver class. However, the season finale at Donington Park heralded the British breakthrough with a fabulous – and dominant – victory, after topping practice and qualifying.
In the GT4 European Series, meanwhile, Hutchison and team-mate Ricardo van der Ende started impressively with the runner-up spot in race one at Zolder in Belgium, but a frustrating post-race penalty, for a pit-stop infringement, dropped them to sixth. Engine damage in race two, a legacy of early race contact, then ruined another realistic podium bid.
The championship made its annual visit to the UK for the second event, at Brands Hatch, where outrageous contact from a rival in the first race resulted in a massive accident for van der Ende and ruled the duo out of race two as well with the No.10 McLaren incurring immense damage.
Bouncing back unbelievably well for the trip to Misano in Italy, Hutchison and van der Ende watched a debateable penalty cost them a maiden win in race one before scorching to that elusive first Euro victory in race two with a sensational performance, featuring some star overtaking from the Scot.
At Spa where he contested a total of seven track sessions between his duties in the British and European championships, alongside the aforementioned British GT4 podium with McKay, Hutchison and van der Ende also posted their second rostrum result of the season in the European Series.
Travelling to Hungary for the penultimate event of the season in September, the weekend proved spectacular – and highly unpredictable – for Hutchison who delivered perhaps his most impressive showing of the year.
Following an engine fire in the McLaren, ruling the car out of the event, he was given the opportunity of switching to V8 Racing’s Chevrolet Camaro GT4 to partner Duncan Huisman and Hutchison absolutely starred. Despite never having set foot in the car, he produced a remarkable performance and took a best of eighth from 42nd on the grid in a rain-affected second race.
The GT4 European Series finale at the Nurburgring in Germany, where he was back in the McLaren with van der Ende, brought deserved cheer for Hutchison and – as he would also do in the British championship finale one week later – he secured a superb win in round 12 after finishing second in the earlier 11th round. The double podium helped elevate him into a top four championship finish.
Reflecting on the year, Hutchison commented: “Switching so well to the Chevrolet in Hungary was quite impressive, I think that was one of the real highlights of the season as I’d never been in that car before and yet we were very competitive and able to storm through from the back of a huge grid.
“Misano was obviously good, in terms of the actual racing it was phenomenal and I feel it was probably one of the very best weekends, if not the best, I’ve been involved in. Without the unfortunate penalty in race one, the double win was ours but, anyway, taking my first race win in Europe with Ricardo was absolutely fantastic.”
He added: “The wins were the standouts, but one of the very best aspects of the year was the amount of hard work we continued to put in to every session, even though quite often we weren’t getting the breaks we deserved. I feel I learned a lot in the European championship, I’ve definitely grown a lot as a driver and really did enjoy working with Ricardo – I learnt so much from him.”