Delivering an absolutely star performance along with Equipe Verschuur team-mate Daniel McKay in qualifying, securing their first official pole position start in British GT4 for the huge three-hour race at Silverstone’s Grand Prix Circuit, in race trim too Hutchison and McKay were spectacular.
Building a lead of more than five seconds during the first 45-minute stint, Dundee 18-year-old Hutchison handed over the No.10 McLaren 570S to McKay and he continued the terrific progression before handing the car back over to Hutchison midway through the race with a 20 second cushion.
Driving superbly, the Hutchison Technologies, Evoson and In-Home Displays backed driver increased the advantage to well over half a minute but, with less than an hour to go, what looked set to be a clear-cut first win became retirement in the blink of an eye when the front-right suspension failed.
“The team did a flawless job this weekend, I did a flawless job and so did my team-mate Daniel”, said a realistic Hutchison, “We had a huge lead over the rest of the field that was increasing every lap, I really thought we had it in the bag after such a fantastic performance throughout the race, but then we had an unfortunate failure in the last hour. There wasn’t anything any of us could do.
“It’s such a massive shame after so much hard work from everyone involved, I don’t know what we need to do to be honest! For some reason we’re having a lot of bad luck this year, but hopefully that’ll change for the European round in a couple of weeks at Misano. We’ll get the car back in working order and hopefully go there and get the result we deserve.”
He added: “First, though, we’re heading to Le Mans next weekend where I’m going to be racing an Aston Martin with Academy Motorsport in one of the support races to the 24 Hours. It’s an amazing opportunity and I’m really looking forward to competing with Matt Nicoll-Jones as my team-mate, plus seeing how the Aston compares to what I’m used to with the McLaren.”
From the outset in the opening free practice at Silverstone on Saturday morning Hutchison produced superb pace, ending the run second fastest in GT4 and the quickest of the Silver Cup entries. McKay was also second in GT4 and fastest in Silver in session two, setting the duo up perfectly for the all-important qualifying period.
Hutchison took the wheel of the No.10 McLaren for the first of the two sessions and he aced the run with a time of 2m11.777 seconds (100.00mph) securing provisional pole position. In the second period, McKay was fourth with a time of 2m11.481 seconds (100.22mph) which, on combined times, meant the Equipe Verschuur team-mates claimed the GT4 pole by a huge 0.9 seconds.
Dundee racer Hutchison took the first stint of the big three-hour contest and although edged back to fourth in GT4, the McLaren driver mounted a sensational recovery. Taking third place on lap two at Aintree from the No.61 Aston Martin, he then grabbed second the next time around from the similar Aston of Will Moore before setting his sights on the race leader.
Closing down the No.5 McLaren of Lewis Proctor at a rapid rate, Hutchison swarmed all over the back of his rival and tried everything to make the breakthrough. Looking every which way to try and pressure Proctor into a mistake, Hutchison’s attention was relentless and it paid off on lap eight into Stowe at the end of Hangar Straight when a bold pass up the inside secured the lead.
Immediately pulling clear, the rapid GT4 racer opened an advantage of 1.2 seconds inside a single lap and went on to lead by 5.4 seconds by lap 20. Driving impeccably, with searing pace, Hutchison then served the team’s first pit-stop of the race with 45 minutes of racing elapsed.
McKay climbed behind the wheel of the Equipe Verschuur machine and was the lead runner of the GT4 entries to have pitted at that point. When all of the mandatory stops had been served, he held a 15 second cushion at the head of GT4 and went on to pit to hand the McLaren back to Hutchison at the halfway point of the race with 22 seconds in his pocket.
Again, Hutchison reeled off impressive lap times and due to the strategy of some of the other teams the Equipe Verschuur duo ran out of synch with them. Holding fourth in GT4 with just over an hour to go, the highest placed of the entries to have taken a second mandatory pit-stop, Hutchison then climbed into third and soon took second place before moving back into the lead.
With a potential first British GT4 victory looking extremely realistic, and with an advantage of well over half a minute, disaster struck with around 55 minutes left on the clock when the front-right suspension collapsed in spectacular fashion. Although managing to get the No.10 McLaren back to the pits, retirement was a foregone conclusion.
There is now a six-week break in the British GT4 Championship calendar ahead of round seven of the season at Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium on Sunday, 22nd July. Before then, Hutchison will link back up with Dutch racer Ricardo van der Ende for the third event of the GT4 European Series at Misano in Italy over the weekend 23rd/24th June.
First, though, the Scotsman will make his debut at the world renowned Circuit de la Sarthe in France, home of next weekend’s Le Mans 24 Hours, where he will compete in the Michelin Aston Martin Racing Festival support race on Saturday, 16th June, as team-mate to Academy Motorsport’s Matt Nicoll-Jones in his Aston Martin V8 Vantage GT4.
2018 British GT4 Championship Standings (after Rd6)
15th Finlay Hutchison/Daniel McKay, 18pts
2018 British GT4 Championship ‘Silver Cup’ Standings (after Rd6)
9th Finlay Hutchison/Daniel McKay, 38pts