Scotland’s Finlay Hutchison produced a strong performance at the Nurburgring in Germany on Sunday, 6th September, en-route to a hard-earned top four Silver Cup finish during the six-hour second round of the GT World Challenge Europe Endurance Cup.
Marking the Dundee 20-year-old’s first appearance with top Audi squad Attempto Racing, having contested the first race of the season in a Mercedes-AMG GT3, Hutchison readapted to driving an Audi R8 seamlessly – having contested the GT World Challenge last year in an Audi – and raced impressively during his two stints which book-ended the race.
Catapulting the No.55 Audi R8 LMS GT3 into podium contention immediately, from sixth in the Silver Cup battle at the start, Hutchison ran third in class throughout the opening hour before climbing into second ahead of the first round of pit-stops.
Ultimately, the British Racing Drivers’ Club Rising Star and new team-mates Alex Aka and Nicolas Scholl ended the marathon encounter – twice the length of the usual GT World Challenge Europe Endurance Cup contests – fourth in class and 24th overall, from the huge 47 car entry.
“The start was really good and our pace throughout the race was quite good to be honest”, said Hutchison, “I’m so pleased we made the change to join Attempto Racing, it’s been a positive weekend for me and especially my first race back in an Audi since last season.
“We did struggle a bit to switch the tyres on in the colder temperatures in qualifying, so we started further back than we should. To finish the race P4 in Silver though showed we made a good step forward. It was great working with the Attempto guys for the first time – actually the head engineer was my head engineer last year [at Phoenix Racing] so that was good as we work well together.”
Taking the start of the race in the No.55 Audi, Hutchison launched very well from sixth in Silver and 27th position overall on the grid and rocketed into third in class and 18th place in the outright order as he avoided unfolding drama at the first corner.
Positioning himself well through Turn One, where several cars tangled, he moved into the Silver podium placings and after the obvious Safety Car period racing resumed on lap four. Pressuring the similar Audi of Rolf Ineichen, by lap 14 the Hutchison Technologies, Evoson and In-Home Displays supported driver was just 0.3 seconds shy but there wasn’t a clear-cut opportunity to try and pass.
When Oliver Wilkinson’s McLaren slipped back, Hutchison assumed 17th overall and as the first round of pit-stops began, just before the end of the opening hour, he climbed into 13th overall and second in Silver. Then pitting himself at the end of lap 31, he handed the Audi over to Aka.
After the race order had settled Aka was fourth in Silver and 19th overall, but at the 90-minute mark he slipped back to sixth in class and 25th position in the outright order. Remaining on track until lap 58, around the two-hour juncture, Aka pitted to hand over to Scholl for his first race mileage.
After a Full Course Yellow period had completed following the stops, Scholl held eighth in Silver and 29th place overall and he then pitted at the halfway point of the race but remained in the car for a double-stint. During another FCY period around the four-hour mark, Scholl stayed on track initially and then pitted from second in class and 16th – the Audi running out of sync with their rivals.
Aka got back behind the wheel and held fourth in Silver when racing resumed, 22nd place overall, and he then handed the car back to Hutchison with less than 55 minutes to go. Joining the race still holding 22nd and fourth in class, he performed impressively to keep ‘Pro’ driver Tom Onslow-Cole at bay but with just 15 minutes to go the Mercedes made the breakthrough.
With no need to try and respond, as the car wasn’t in the Silver class battle, Hutchison ultimately took the chequered flag at the end of six hours in 24th position overall and fourth in Silver to cap a strong debut with the Attempto Racing squad.
Round three of the GT World Challenge Europe Endurance Cup, the blue riband Total 24 Hours of Spa, will take place over the weekend 24th/25th October. As this year’s rescheduled event takes place when the clocks change, it will actually run over an extended duration of 25 hours. Spa in Belgium will host a two-day test on Tuesday, 29th September, and Wednesday, 30th September.
Hutchison’s next race action, meanwhile, will be round four of the European Le Mans Series at Monza in Italy on Sunday, 11th October, with the JMW Motorsport Ferrari F488 LMGTE.
Source. Marc Orme/Photo. SRO Motorsports Group