Scottish motorsport talent Finlay Hutchison eased to a second career endurance car racing victory during the rain-affected Zandvoort 500 on Saturday, 18th November – notably the youngster’s debut race at the wheel of a high-performance Renaultsport R.S.01.
Confirming his involvement in the weekend’s big four-hour race at the Dutch track just a few days before the event, the 17-year-old from Dundee made a seamless transition from the McLaren 570s GT4 car he has raced throughout 2017 to the more powerful R.S.01.
Running with Equipe Verschuur as team-mate to Bernhard ten Brinke, the Scottish racer took qualifying duties and immediately impressed by putting the car on the front row of the grid with the second fastest time.
In the race, ten Brinke took the opening stint and after moving through into the lead on lap two the pairing never looked back as they dominated the contest.
With changeable conditions throwing a challenging variable into the mix, Hutchison didn’t put a wheel wrong during his time in the car – the second and final stints – and with the Verschuur prepared R.S.01 not missing a beat either, the team-mates claimed a resounding victory two laps clear of their nearest rival.
“The race really couldn’t have gone any better, I’m so happy to win”, said an elated Hutchison, “It was fantastic for us to get the lead so early and keep it for the full four hours, but to take the chequered flag two laps clear of the rest was more than we could have hoped for.
“I’m really pleased with how quickly I adapted to the car, the R.S.01 is easily the quickest I’ve driven but it didn’t take long to get to grips with it. I feel like I used what I learnt in my time in Formula Renault more than in the McLaren, the R.S.01 is much more like a single-seater to drive.”
Featuring a 24 car entry comprising sportscars, GT cars and touring cars, the Zandvoort 500 started on a wet track and ten Brinke – who is a factory Toyota rally driver – took the first stint in the No.103 Renaultsport R.S.01.
With a strategic early pit stop at the start of the race to change to wet-weather tyres, the Verschuur R.S.01 quickly made up the time lost during the pit-stop to take the lead from the pole-starting Ligier LMP3 on lap two. Ten Brinke put together a great opening to the encounter, before Hutchison took over driving duties and continued to build the lead.
Holding an advantage of almost a minute at the midway point, the In Home Displays, Fitbox Virtual, Evoson and Hutchison Technologies-backed racer handed the car back to ten Brinke for the third hour, at the end of which the advantage was more than two minutes. Hutchison then climbed back aboard the R.S.01 for the last stint and went on to take the flag over two laps clear of the Ligier.
“I want to say a huge thank you to all the guys at Equipe Verschuur, especially our race engineer Antonio Gonzalez and team principal Frans Verschuur, for preparing such a fantastic car and giving Bernhard and I the opportunity to challenge for the win”, added Hutchison.
“It’s been a great weekend with a great team-mate and the perfect result, we couldn’t have asked for any more and it was great teaming with such a fantastic driver as Bernhard for the first time. I hope to drive with him again in the future and would like to take this opportunity to wish him every success in the Dakar Rally in January. Hopefully this weekend’s performance can be a strong springboard for whatever I do in 2018.”