Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi brought a bittersweet conclusion to the 2022 Asian Le Mans Series for Dundee racing driver Finlay Hutchison at the weekend, 19th/20th February, with a season-best 14th place result in round four coming after another challenging event in the Middle East.
Having encountered difficulties throughout the previous weekend’s ALMS season-opener in Dubai, due to the Balance of Performance grading of the Attempto Racing Audi R8 LMS GT3 EVO II, Hutchison and team-mates Alex Aka and Florian Scholze again had to battle the BOP in Abu Dhabi.
Even so, the 22-year-old Scotsman produced two terrific race drives and particularly in the second encounter on Sunday afternoon when he delivered a sensational opening stint. Although having to start from the back of the grid, Hutchison stormed through the order in double-quick time to rise as high as eighth position in the GT class – gaining an incredible 15 positions.
In the end the Attempto trio finished round four in 14th position, having ended Saturday’s third round at Yas Marina Circuit in 19th place, and conclude the ALMS an unrepresentative 15th in the GT class driver standings.
“We had the car driving nice in Abu Dhabi, a big step forward from Dubai, our problems were purely down to the BOP”, reflected Hutchison, “We were quick, but just so slow on the straights compared to the Ferraris, McLarens and Astons, which was really frustrating.
“Over a lap I was probably a second quicker than cars I was trying to pass. You had to work so hard to try and force a mistake but then they’d just leave you standing and pull four or five car lengths on the straights. It gets a bit soul destroying when that happens, no matter how well you’re driving.”
He added: “The good thing was we showed we had good pace and I’m happy with my performance in Abu Dhabi. I got a really good start in race two and to gain so many places was fantastic, managing to make the leap and run with the front pack was so much better than what happened in Dubai.”
Scholze took the opening stint of round three on Saturday and, from 19th on the GT class grid, made some progress during the first 30 minutes. Running in 17th place after a couple of Full Course Yellow cautionary periods, the German then handed over the Audi to Hutchison for hour two.
In 19th position at the start of his stint, the Scotsman remained there for the next half an hour prior to a red flag race stoppage due to a car fire for a rival, plus oil on the track. When racing resumed sometime later, Hutchison gained two places to move back up to 17th position with just over 90 minutes of action to go.
Aka took over at the next pit-stop and he held 18th place with around one hour remaining, but after another late stop he was in 20th position. Ultimately, the German racer took the chequered flag at the end of four hours of action in 19th in the No.96 car.
Round four on Sunday began with Hutchison at the wheel of the Attempto Racing entry and he was determined to make up as much ground as possible early on. After a great start from 23rd on the GT grid, he stormed through the order – despite the shackles of the negative BOP – and sliced his way as high as eighth position with some expert and very impressive driving.
Scholze took over at the first driver-change pit-stop and when a Full Course Yellow cautionary period was called late-on in hour two, he was in 17th place. Aka was next on track and held 18th position at the midway point of the encounter. Working his way into the top 12 with 90 minutes to go, following the final pit-stops Aka took the flag in 14th position.
2022 Asian Le Mans Series Trophy – GT Drivers Standings
15th Finlay Hutchison/Alex Aka/Florian Scholze, 2pts