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Whiteside Leads The Way In Ginetta GT Academy Finale

18th October 2021 • Simon Paice

Angus Whiteside has signed off his title-winning campaign with a hat-trick of rookie wins in the Ginetta GT Academy season finale at Donington Park (16/17 October), as Wes Pearce, Mackenzie Walker and Roy Alderslade shared the GTA class victories.

Pearce (Elite Motorsport) topped the timesheets for the first time in qualifying, becoming only the third driver to achieve that feat this season. Whiteside put in a quick last lap of the session to finish as the fastest rookie in second overall.

Assetto Motorsport duo Alderslade and Walker locked out the second row of the grid, the latter impressing on his series debut, while rookie talents Gilbert Yates and Edward Acres rounded out the top six.

Pearce converted pole position into the early lead in the opening race on Saturday afternoon. The former GT5 Challenge racer looked comfortable at the front before a lock-up into the Melbourne hairpin pushed him wide, with Alderslade taking full advantage.

While he went on to cross the line first, a track limits time penalty handed a second GTA victory of the season to Pearce. Walker took third overall on the road after a last lap move on Whiteside, however he received a track limits penalty of his own.

Whiteside and Acres therefore finished second and third overall as the rookie top two, while Alderslade and Walker still got their hands on GTA class silverware. Darren Leung pulled off some good moves in the race to complete the rookie podium in sixth overall.

On his first outing since the season opener in May, Lee Frost (SVG Motorsport) fought his way from 12th on the grid to seventh ahead of Tom Hartley Jnr, whilst just as impressive was Lee Goldsmith (Assetto Motorsport) as he climbed from the back of the grid to ninth.

Gary Wager (SF Racing) completed the top ten ahead of rookie Danny Dwyer and Silverstone race-winner Martin Wills (Assetto Motorsport), who had been running in the top six before an unfortunate spin out of the final corner.

A dramatic weather change overnight meant treacherous, wet conditions greeted the field for race two on Sunday morning. Whiteside started from pole position and had to fend off some early pressure from Alderslade, before a couple of moments for the latter at the Esses lost him ground.

Walker took up the mantle of challenging Whiteside, however a run wide of his own at the Esses allowed the leader to have a comfortable final couple of laps en-route to a nine second success. Walker recovered in second to continue his impressive debut with the GTA class win.

Alderslade was next up, while Pearce recovered from some early drama to fourth overall, having picked his way through a close battle between Leung and Hartley Jnr. Those two rounded out the top six to pick up rookie class silverware.

After an early spin cost him the chance of a strong finish in race one, Robin Grimwood (Assetto Motorsport) hit back with seventh ahead of Wager. Dwyer and Wills rounded out the top ten from rookie debutant Jon Kearney and Goldsmith.

The final race of the season took place in improved conditions on Sunday afternoon, with Whiteside starting from pole courtesy of his race two win. A slow launch off the line dropped him to fourth at one stage, but a stunning fightback saw him back at the front by the end of lap one.

From there, he successfully negotiated a mid-race safety car restart before pulling clear to a near four second win. He therefore ended the campaign with a run of eight overall victories in the last 10 races, as well as a tally of 12 rookie class wins over the year.

It was Walker who had briefly led the field on the opening lap before running second into the safety car period. Shortly after the restart, Alderslade got ahead and went on to take a long-awaited first GTA win of the season, with Walker completing a podium treble for his debut outing.

Pearce ran fourth throughout, but almost lost the spot in a thrilling photo-finish with Acres, who had produced the drive of the race to go from 15th on the grid to fifth. Leung was hot on his heels, with those two signing off their first seasons of car-racing on the rookie podium.

Goldsmith climbed from 11th to seventh for his best finish of the weekend, with his team-mate Grimwood running as high as fifth early on before slipping back to eighth. Rookies Dwyer and Kearney ended the weekend with top ten finishes.

Neil Wallace (SVG Motorsport) finished with a hard-fought GTA class top six finish, ahead of debutant Mike Jordan (DTO) and Shawn Fleming (SF Racing) – all three picking up their best results of the meeting.

Full race results for the weekend can be found here: https://www.tsl-timing.com/event/214105