Going into the opening event of his maiden ALMS aiming for a pair of consistent and strong results in the No.96 Audi R8 LMS GT3 EVO II, Hutchison and Attempto Racing team-mates Alex Aka and Florian Scholze instead had to settle for a brace of 15th place finishes in the competitive GT class.
Driving well in both evening encounters at Dubai Autodrome, 22-year-old Dundee racer Hutchison was powerless to try and compensate for the lack of straight-line speed resulting from the BOP. In race two on Sunday there were some steps forward, but a stop-go penalty for Scholze during the opening hour resulted in a big loss of track position and an uphill fight thereafter.
“It’s not been a great weekend for us unfortunately”, he reflected, “It’s safe to say we made some progress between the two races, but we were still too far away and the negative BOP was the biggest problem we faced. We did start with high hopes going into Dubai, but we didn’t do the two practice days earlier in the week – everyone else did – so we started on the back foot.
“There was a lot to learn, the Michelins were new to us and we had a new engineer as well, so it was a battle trying to come from behind. We had difficulties in both races with the BOP, and also taking enough speed onto the straights, so there was a lot going against us. We obviously need to make some big improvements for Abu Dhabi next weekend, so we’ll all be working hard to achieve that.”
Following a difficult qualifying session on Saturday, 12th February, where the Attempto trio had to settle for 19th on the grid in the GT class for round one, Hutchison started the season-opening ALMS race for the team and put together a sensational first lap.
Scything his way through to the cusp of the top 10, the Scotsman sliced into 11th position in class and 21st overall – gaining no fewer than 11 outright places with some tremendous driving. By lap five he had moved up into eighth in GT as he continued his brilliant rise up the order, but he then began to struggle more with the car as the race settled down.
Slipping back to 10th in class, towards the end of the first hour the opening round of pit-stops started to be served and he moved back into eighth. Pitting early in hour two, right on the tail of a pair of McLarens, Hutchison handed over the Audi R8 to Scholze who emerged 11th in GT.
Dropping back to 14th place a short while later, Scholze remained in the top 15 past the halfway mark of the race before Aka got behind the wheel at the second pit-stop and he ultimately went on to finish a difficult and demanding race 15th in GT.
Aiming for better in round two on Sunday evening, Scholze started the race – which got underway at 17.30 local time – and avoided lap one dramas to impressively scythe his way into ninth in GT, a gain of 10 places in class on his grid slot.
Edged back to 10th position shortly after, Scholze then had to make an unscheduled pit-stop half an hour into the race due to a stop-go penalty. Losing significant track position and time, Scholze dropped down to 18th place and Aka then took over the car around one hour into the contest.
With a huge amount to do, Aka did make some progress and halfway through the race he was into 13th in GT. Hutchison took over driving duties early in hour three and he remained around the top 15 with some consistent driving before Aka returned for the run to the flag, finishing in 15th place.
Hutchison and the Attempto Racing squad now head to Abu Dhabi for rounds three and four of the Asian Le Mans Series next weekend, 19th/20th February, at Yas Marina Circuit.