Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe Powered by AWS Endurance Cup racer Finlay Hutchison delivered a strong ninth place finish in the season finale on Sunday, 10th October, with team-mates Markus Winkelhock and Dennis Lind – on the category debut of the new Audi R8 LMS GT3 EVO II.
Marking the first appearance in GTWCE of the latest version of Audi’s hugely successful GT3 car, the weekend’s outing at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya also gave Dundee 21-year-old Hutchison his first true experience of working directly with factory Audi Sport engineers across a race meeting.
Running as an invitational entry in the final race of the season, the No.26 Sainteloc Racing entered car qualified 12th on the grid from the 46-car field and strong drives from Hutchison, Winkelhock and Lind ensured a highly competitive ninth place result which the Scotsman was happy with.
“It was a good weekend, when I was out on track we were right up there with the big names which was fantastic”, said the Hutchison Technologies, Evoson and In-Home Displays backed racer”, It’s been a great experience racing the Audi R8 EVO II and having the opportunity to work with the Audi Sport engineers this weekend has been fantastic too – I hope I gave them something to think about.
“It goes without saying it was great teaming with Winky and Dennis, two outstanding Pro drivers who really have helped me to raise my game. Everyone worked together really well all weekend and ninth place was a good result, making sure we looked after the car and got the best data possible.”
Hutchison buoyed by strong conclusion to third full season in GT3 endurance
Running in a GT World Challenge Europe track session for the first time in testing on Friday, 8th October, the Audi R8 LMS GT3 EVO II ended free practice on Saturday, 9th October, inside the top 20 before Winkelhock put the car fourth fastest overall in pre-qualifying – the quickest non-Mercedes AMG entry. The lap of 1m46.742 seconds was just 0.2 seconds shy of the top of the times.
During final qualifying on Sunday morning Lind was the quickest of the trio with a sensational time of 1m45.004 seconds, placing him third quickest in session two. On combined times across the three runs, the No.26 Audi secured 12th on the grid with Hutchison lapping just half a second shy of Pro team-mate Winkelhock’s pace.
German driver Winkelhock took the opening stint of the three-hour encounter on Sunday afternoon from the sixth row of the grid and with a full race distance important to complete to obtain as much data as possible for the new car, he didn’t take any unnecessary risks.
Holding 12th position up to the point the first round of pit-stops began to be served, Winkelhock moved up into sixth position before pitting on lap 34. Hutchison climbed behind the wheel for the second stint and when the race order settled he was in 10th place overall.
Running competitively and strongly, the Scotsman remained in the top 10 past the halfway point of the three-hour race and continued to lap impressively – staying in touch with the Lamborghini of Pro racer Andrea Caldarelli. Hutchison then pitted just before the end of hour two, handing the Audi over to Lind.
Holding 11th place initially, the Danish driver moved back inside the top 10 with around 45 minutes to go before a Full Course Yellow period. When racing resumed with half an hour to go, Lind pressed on and into the closing stages he passed the No.22 Porsche 911 of Matt Campbell to take ninth. At the flag, after another late Safety Car period, Lind was under two seconds shy of the top six.
“I really enjoyed the weekend, it’s always good to end a season with a strong result and a really competitive performance – it’s the boost you need before the winter”, Hutchison added, “We’re not sure what next year will bring, there are a lot of options and we’re talking to a number of people so we’ll see what happens over the next few weeks.”
Source. Marc Orme/Photo. SRO Motorsports Group