Hutchison, who will contest the full Blancpain GT Series this year with Phoenix Racing in an Audi R8 GT3 car, took the opportunity to link-up with Walkenhorst Motorsport for the opening round of the VLN Endurance Championship on Saturday, 23rd March, and delivered a terrific account of himself.
Teaming with Florian Weber and Alex Mambertz in the No.191 BMW M4 GT4, Dundee’s Hutchison took no time at all to acclimatise to the BMW and the trio qualified fifth fastest in class for the first VLN encounter of the year.
Heavy fog on Saturday led to significant delays to the timetable, resulting in a shortened qualifying period and also a reduced race duration – the latter cut from four hours to just over two and half hours. Unfortunately, a Code 60 infringement in qualifying, where the car was too fast in a cautionary section of the course, meant officials penalised the squad with a pitlane start for the race.
With a huge challenge ahead, the Walkenhorst entry made fantastic progress through the driver cycles in Saturday afternoon’s contest and carved through the order over 18 laps of the immense, and brutally challenging, 24 kilometre Nurburgring-Nordschleife.
Going on to conclude the race fourth in the GT4 class, 53rd in the overall classification of a huge 166 entries, Hutchison, Weber and Mambertz certainly had the potential to challenge for the GT4 podium but a gearbox issue did impede those hopes.
Nonetheless, Hutchison was delighted to come away from his first race in a BMW with a strong finish and important track time under his belt with only three weeks to go until his debut in the Blancpain Endurance Cup.
“I’m really pleased with how things went at the weekend at the Nordschleife”, said the Hutchison Technologies, Evoson and In-Home Displays backed racer, “Finishing P4 in class on my first ever outing in the BMW GT4 was a good result.
“Unfortunately, we weren’t able to test prior to qualifying due to a differential issue but the team did a great job and worked overnight to replace the diff – although we still had clutch and gearbox issues to work around for the race. Considering we started last, from the pitlane, we all did a pretty good job to get past 113 cars and finish where we did.”
He added: “It was great working with the Walkenhorst Motorsport guys, they did a fantastic job, and good to team with Florian and Alex. Obviously, the Nordschleife is a track like no other in the world and to have been so competitive there was a great confidence boost before the Blancpain GT3 season starts next month.”
Round one of Hutchison’s main 2019 season, the first three-hour Blancpain Endurance Cup race of the year at Monza in Italy, will take place on Sunday, 14th April.