Producing a scintillating performance in round 11 on Saturday to claim a magnificent second place finish, largely thanks to Scottish teenager Hutchison’s remarkable opening stint from 14th on the grid, in round 12 on Sunday morning the McLaren 570S drivers converted van der Ende’s pole position into their second win of the year with a supreme lights-to-flag display for Equipe Verschuur.
As a result of the huge points haul, Dundee’s Hutchison ends his second season in the GT4 European Series fourth in the championship, six points ahead of van der Ende due to Hutchison competing in a different car with Duncan Huisman during the previous event at the Hungaroring.
“To be fourth in the championship with the misfortune and reliability issues we’ve experienced this year, I’m pretty happy with that and it shows what might have been possible”, said Hutchison, "Unfortunately, my qualifying run was compromised by slower cars and I couldn’t create enough of a gap to do a fast lap, so we started down the order for race one but the actual race was fantastic. To go from 14th to fourth at the start, well, it was incredible really – I was happy with that!
“After that I picked a couple more off and Ricardo then maintained the position in his stint to get us back on the podium, everyone at the team has deserved that. In race two, Ricardo just checked-out and did the hard work and when I got in the car I managed to keep the gap. It’s fantastic to win again and great everything went to plan for us for a change, the car didn’t skip a beat all weekend.”
Hutchison and van der Ende wrap-up GT4 Euro season in style
Back with regular team-mate van der Ende at Equipe Vershuur this weekend, the duo got down to business very impressively in practice and after topping the times in session one, in the second run Hutchison kept the McLaren on top by a full 1.2 seconds with a storming lap of 2m05.304 seconds.
Unfortunately, qualifying for race one didn’t go to plan and so Hutchison lined-up 14th on the grid for Saturday afternoon’s encounter – not that it mattered in the end. With an absolutely sublime piece of driving at the rolling start, the Scottish teenager did the unthinkable and surged from 14th place into the top five by the time the field headed through Turn Two.
Not done there, Hutchison passed William Tregurtha’s Ginetta G55 for fourth towards the end of the first lap and then swarmed all over the BMW of Simon Knap before making the pass for third into the first corner on lap four. When the second placed car served a drive-through penalty shortly after, linked to an infringement at the start of the race, Hutchison then moved into the runner-up spot.
Remaining roughly three seconds behind the race leader, the Hutchison Technologies, Evoson and In-Home Displays-backed driver stayed in touch for the remainder of his stint before pitting for the mandatory driver-change at the end of lap 13 with just over half an hour to run.
Van der Ende headed into the race and immediately set about trying to gain as much time as possible. When the race order settled, the No.10 McLaren was still second but the Dutchman began to close significantly on the leading BMW of Bietske Visser.
With a number of backmarkers to clear, the gap between the top two did fluctuate and with only 15 minutes to go just 2.6 seconds separated Visser and van der Ende. With just three laps to run, that had reduced to a mere 0.3 seconds but, try as he might, in the end the Equipe Verschuur racer had to settle for the runner-up placing – a nonetheless sensational result.
During his qualifying session on Saturday, van der Ende secured a fantastic pole position for race two and at the start of Sunday morning’s 60-minute contest the Dutch driver made an exquisite launch to open a clear lead into the first corner.
As all sorts of drama unfolded further behind through the first couple of turns, van der Ende was only looking in one direction – straight ahead – as he pulled away at the front. Due to a multi-car tangle at Turn Two, though, the Safety Car was deployed which negated his advantage.
Recovery of the stricken cars took some time, but the cautionary period also helped to keep the tyres cool and fresh. When the action resumed on lap six with just over 40 minutes remaining, van der Ende was again able to pull away and opened a lead of five seconds before pitting on lap 12.
Hutchison got behind the wheel and joined the track with around 25 minutes to go and he instantly got up to speed to lead by nine seconds when the race order settled. Driving faultlessly and reeling off impressive laps, he maintained a very healthy gap despite having to negotiate traffic and went on to take the chequered flag on lap 25 with an advantage of 10.4 seconds.
Hutchison now returns to the UK in readiness for the final race meeting of the British GT4 season next weekend, 22nd/23rd September, at Donington Park Grand Prix Circuit in Leicestershire where he will partner Daniel McKay for the final time this year in their Equipe Verschuur McLaren.
Provisional 2018 GT4 European Series ‘Silver Cup’ Standings
4th Finlay Hutchison, 108pts