Hoping to add to the scoring results from Monza in Italy and Paul Ricard in France earlier in the season, Dundee 21-year-old Hutchison instead had to be satisfied with a 17th place result from the hugely competitive 43-car entry in the weekend’s three-hour race.
Qualifying 23rd overall, the Sainteloc Racing trio battled very hard throughout the penultimate event of the Endurance Cup season but a difficult encounter, and luckless contact to the rear of the No.26 Audi R8 LMS GT3 mid-race, scuppered a points push.
“It wasn’t the result we wanted from this weekend, but a few things went against us unfortunately - like the contact - and they had a big impact on what we could do”, said the Hutchison Technologies, Evoson and In-Home Displays backed racer, “The guys at the team did a great job as always, so did Winky and Fred [Vervisch], but we just didn’t have the run we’d hoped for which is a shame.”
Enjoying strong preparation for final qualifying, making good improvements between practice and pre-qualifying on Saturday, 4th September, in the latter session the team-mates ended in the top 12 with a best lap of 1m55.851 seconds.
Final qualifying on Sunday morning wasn’t quite as fruitful, the average time from all three sessions placing the No.26 Audi on row 12 of the grid. Winkelhock lapped in 1m55.990 seconds in session one, Hutchison set a time of 1m56.438 seconds in the second run and Vervisch was the fastest of the three with a lap of 1m55.125 seconds in the final session.
Winkelhock took the first stint of the race and quickly gained a couple of positions before becoming stuck just outside the top 20 with overtaking proving extremely tricky. Bundled back a couple of places on lap eight, the German racer soon hit back and by lap 17 he had broken into 20th position.
As the opening round of pit-stops began to be served, Winkelhock moved further up the order into 16th place before handing the car over to Hutchison with an hour elapsed. Settling into the race nicely in 18th position the Scotsman ran well and although losing a bit of ground during the second half of his stint, he remained in touch with the top 20.
On lap 55 though, as he headed into Turn One, the rear of the No.26 Audi R8 was tagged by the Mercedes-AMG of Ezequiel Perez Companc and Hutchison was pitched into a spin. Recovering safely, the incident cost the thick end of 20 seconds and the Sainteloc car dropped down to 27th place.
Pitting just before the end of hour two, handing the car over to Vervisch for the final stint, the works Audi driver pressed on to try and pull back some of the lost ground and following a cautionary Full Course Yellow period with around 40 minutes to go, he was in 26th place.
As the race became increasingly fractious, more on-track incidents occurred and another FCY period was required around 15 minutes later. Still outside the top 20 with under a quarter of an hour to go, Vervisch managed to gain more places during the closing stages and finished in 17th position
Spain’s Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya will host the fifth and final round of the Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe Powered by AWS Endurance Cup over the weekend 9th/10th October.