While robbing the McLaren 570S drivers of a much-needed healthy haul of championship points, after climbing superbly through the order into the overall top five until the aforementioned incident, the extent of damage to the No.10 car was so severe it had to be withdrawn before race two. Very fortunately, van der Ende emerged from the monstrous accident perfectly OK.
“We’re all obviously massively disappointed with how things turned out, especially as we were on for a strong result, but the number one priority was that Ricardo was OK and, luckily, he was”, said relieved Dundee 18-year-old Hutchison, “To see him jump out of the car after a crash like that goes to show just how good the crash structure of the McLaren 570S is.”
With an immense entry of 46 cars for the second event of the European campaign at Brands Hatch, with some additional entries from the British GT4 Championship in which Hutchison also races, qualifying was always going to be extremely busy and Saturday’s sessions proved to be just that.
Hutchison took session one, in glorious weather, and he ended the run with an uncharacteristic 16th best time, 11th quickest in the Silver class. In session two, Van Der Ende took over the McLaren and he ended his run seventh in the Silver class and 12th overall.
“Both Ricardo and I struggled with outright pace in qualifying unfortunately, with our BOP [Balance of Performance] for this weekend and traffic every lap, I really don’t think we could have gone any quicker to be honest”, reflected Hutchison.
Due to a penalty for a rival entry overnight, though, the Scotsman started race one on Sunday morning from an elevated 15th position overall and at the rolling start the Hutchison Technologies, Evoson and In-Home Displays-backed driver got away cleanly but was edged back to 20th place through the first couple of very busy corners.
Battling back into 17th place overall, 11th in the Silver class, before the end of the lap, racing then fell under Safety Car conditions on the second tour. The action resumed on lap seven and Hutchison ran in the middle of a tight group of cars all nose-to-tail outside the top 10.
Following a big shake-up ahead on lap 11, he smartly sliced through into 13th place and ninth in Silver just before the Safety Car was required again. While the race was under caution, the pit-stop window opened and Hutchison was among the lead group of cars which made early stops.
Proving to be an excellent decision, when Dutchman van der Ende joined the track the McLaren was fifth of the cars to have pitted and at the re-start on lap 16 he quickly looked to make gains. After swarming all over the battling BMW and KTM ahead he moved into fourth on the outside at Paddock Hill Bend on lap 17.
Although elbowed wide and back to fifth overall at Druids, van der Ende stayed with the cars ahead and on the run up to Hawthorn he moved to the outside of the KTM as he made a bid for fourth. Outrageously, as the cars headed into the right-hander, the KTM moved left and made contact with van der Ende, unceremoniously forcing him onto the gravel and resulting in a major accident.
Frighteningly, the McLaren shot across the gravel trap on the outside and made head-on contact with the barriers with the momentum carrying the Equipe Verschuur car up and onto the tyre wall. Thankfully, van der Ende and the marshals who were posted behind the barrier were all unscathed.
With the incident ultimately leading to the race being red flagged, Hutchison and van der Ende were robbed of a very strong race finish. Soon enough, when the car was recovered back to the team in the race paddock, it became evidently clear the damage sustained was too great to be repaired for the second encounter.
“It’s not been our year up to now but we know we’ve got the race pace to be on the podium, we just need some luck on our side and we didn’t have that this weekend”, added Hutchison, “We’ll be back ready to go at Misano next month, though, and determined to get our season back on track.”
The third race meeting of the 2018 GT4 European Series will take place over the weekend 23rd/24th June at Misano in Italy. Before then, Hutchison will be back in action in the British GT4 Championship for rounds four and five of its season, taking place at Snetterton in the UK on 26th/27th May.