Ravi Ramyead and Nick White shared the race victories as the third season of the Ginetta GT Academy got underway at Oulton Park (08-10 April).
Dominant 2022 rookie champion Ravi Ramyead (Century Motorsport) and White (Raceway Motorsport) shared the pole positions in qualifying under blistering sunshine on Saturday morning, with less than two tenths of a second separating them at the top of the times.
Ed Acres (Century Motorsport) was next up, while a brilliant performance from Matt Shaw saw him finish fourth overall as the top rookie. GTA contenders James Taylor (W2R) and Thomas Shelley (Century Motorsport) completed the top six, while Emma Tomlinson was the second-best rookie in P9.
Ramyead converted pole position into the lead through the opening corner of race one, however heading through Cascades for the first time he had a spin. That promoted White to the lead and he took full advantage, comfortably leading throughout for his first GT Academy victory.
Fellow second year driver Acres stayed within touching distance throughout as he took his best result in the championship to second, with Taylor picking up a podium on his debut. Shaw took an impressive rookie class win in fourth overall, with Ramyead eventually fighting back to fifth.
Shelley and Jon Kearney (Raceway Motorsport) had finished in the top five on the road, however time penalties for a false start and track limits respectively meant they ultimately switched places in sixth and seventh ahead of Marc Elman (SVG Motorsport) and Ginetta veteran Phil McGarty (Alastair Rushforth Motorsport).
Emma and Amy Tomlinson picked up rookie class silverware ahead of sibling Lucy and Charlotte Lowe, with Richard Just having been on course for second before a retirement. Mackenzie Walker (Assetto Racing) also failed to reach the finish, having sensationally climbed from 15th on the grid to sixth at one stage.
The race action resumed on bank holiday Monday, with a large rain downpour in the morning leading to the second race taking place in wet conditions. White started from pole and held his advantage off the start, but immediately came under pressure from Ramyead.
Following a mid-race safety car period, Ramyead pounced on the restart into Old Hall to take the lead and he went on to secure the overall – his third in the championship following a double success at Oulton last year. White came home second, with evo magazine journalist Taylor finishing third again.
Shaw was on course for fourth place before losing ground on the final lap, however he still doubled up in the rookie class. Shelley took fourth at the flag, with Kearney fifth on the road however a false start time penalty dropped him down the order.
From 15th on the grid, a storming drive from Walker netted him a top five finish ahead of Shaw and Elman, while Just bounced back from his race one retirement with second in the rookie class. Behind Kearney, Amy Tomlinson completed the top ten overall and secured another rookie podium.
The final race of the weekend saw a tense duel between Ramyead and White for victory. The former led away from pole but had to soak up a lot of pressure from his adversary to complete a double win for the day, whilst White completed a podium treble to emerge as early championship leader.
Taylor and Shaw were battling it out for third place before an unfortunate incident between the two dropped them out of podium contention. Shelley came through to third for his maiden GTA podium, while Acres was fourth as he bounced back from a rollercoaster second race.
Taylor recovered to fifth ahead of Kearney, who rose three places from ninth on the grid, with Just picking up the rookie class win in seventh overall. Elman was next up, while Shaw produced a stunning fightback from 14th to ninth and second in the rookie class ahead of Amy and Emma Tomlinson.
Full race results can be found at www.tsl-timing.com/event/231405
All three races can be watched back at www.youtube.com/user/ginettatv
Next up for the Ginetta GT Academy is a visit to Silverstone next month (06/07 May), with races on the full Grand Prix layout at the Home of British Motor Racing.