Hopes of a strong conclusion to the GT World Challenge Europe Endurance Cup season for Dundee’s Finlay Hutchison ended less than halfway through the six-hour championship finale at Paul Ricard in France on Sunday, 15th November, when engine valve failure triggered a disappointing retirement.
While the No.55 Attempto Racing Audi R8 LMS GT3 had been running competitively for the first couple of hours, first with Alex Aka at the wheel and then Hutchison, a developing power issue soon led to retirement to the pits early in the third hour when Nicolas Scholl was at the wheel.
In what has been a character-building year for 20-year-old British Racing Drivers’ Club ‘Rising Star’ Hutchison with a variety of issues not of his making, his determination and resolve has remained intact throughout the rescheduled campaign and he is now looking ahead positively to 2021.
“To be honest the car was running well, it was handling nicely and we were able to run pretty competitively”, said the Hutchison Technologies, Evoson and In-Home Displays backed racer, “In my first stint, though, we started to lose power and so at the pit-stop the team looked into it and we thought it was a faulty sensor.
“But we soon realised a valve in the engine had gone so Nicolas had no option but to retire the car, which is obviously really disappointing and not the end to the season any of us wanted. It’s a real shame as the guys at Attempto have been great and worked really hard. It’s been fantastic teaming with Nicolas and Alex as well, just unfortunate we weren’t able to show more of what we could do.”
The final qualifying session of the GT World Challenge Europe Endurance Cup season on Saturday, 14th November, got underway at dusk. Aka ran in the first period, ending up 10th in the Silver Cup, with Scholl sixth in class in the second run and Hutchison ninth in Silver in the fully dark final session which featured all of the pro factory drivers. On combined times, the No.55 Audi was 11th fastest.
Aka began the six-hour race on Sunday morning from 11th in class, 34th on the overall grid, and made terrific gains on an action-packed – and fairly chaotic – opening lap. Surging into the Silver top six in 25th place overall, Aka did then slip back several places over the course of the next few laps to eighth in class before taking the team’s first pit-stop with just under an hour complete.
Hutchison got behind the wheel for his first stint and was ninth in class, just outside the overall top 30, but quickly gained positions and moved up the order to 26th place and seventh in Silver. After serving a second unscheduled stop, Hutchison then started to experience difficulties with a loss of power but he managed to hold seventh in class ahead of the next pit visit.
Scholl climbed behind the wheel for his first race mileage of the weekend and ventured out onto track with the action under Safety Car conditions at that point. Running ninth in Silver and 30th overall when racing resumed on lap 65, with three hours and 48 minutes left on the clock, he eventually pitted on lap 86 when one of the engine valves failed and the car was duly retired.
“We’ve had some positives to take from this season, but overall we have been pretty unfortunate with various incidents and issues”, said Hutchison, “Sometimes that’s how it goes in motorsport, but the main thing is to learn and gain as much experience as possible. The focus now is to work hard for next year, that all starts now!”
Hutchison’s best result of the GT World Challenge Europe Endurance Cup season came during the six-hour second round at the Nurburgring in Germany, racing to fourth place in the Silver Cup on his maiden outing with Attempto Racing as team-mate to Aka and Scholl.
Also dovetailing a debut season in the European Le Mans Series with JMW Motorsport at the wheel of a Ferrari F488 in the LMGTE class, Hutchison’s best result there was also a top four finish – in the first race of the season at Paul Ricard as team-mate to Hunter Abbott and Jody Fannin.
Source. Marc Orme/Photo. SRO Motorsports Group