19 brand-new Ginetta G56 GTA’s took to the track around the Grand Prix layout, with Trice proving to be the man to beat as he fought to three wins. There were a trio of different winners in the rookie class meanwhile, as Gilbert Yates, Angus Whiteside and Ravi Ramyead shared the spoils.
The honour of securing the first ever GT Academy pole position went to Trice (SVG Motorsport). Returning to Ginetta racing after a season away, the former GRDC front-runner was a quarter of a second clear of his closest competitor, Roy Alderslade (Assetto Motorsport).
Ramyead produced a hugely impressive performance to top the timesheets for a spell before finishing third quickest, just three thousandths of a second ahead of Whiteside as the rookie contenders established themselves towards the front of the pack from the off.
After a dry qualifying session, the field were greeted with a heavy rain shower just as they kicked off the opening race on Saturday. Trice quickly adapted to the tricky conditions and pulled six seconds clear of the chasing pack in just three laps.
Alderslade remained second, while it had been all change behind on the opening lap. A slow start lost Whiteside ground, while a spin at Paddock Hill Bend dropped Ramyead to the rear of the field. Taking full advantage to rise from seventh to third was Lee Frost (Simon Green Motorsport).
Trice did see his early advantage wiped out by the emergence of the safety car, however a textbook restart kept him out front. Alderslade stayed as his chief challenger for a couple more laps before a slide out of Graham Hill Bend allowed Frost to work his way past.
Shortly afterwards the safety car was back on track and it stayed out until the finish of the race, with Trice taking the chequered flag to become the first ever GT Academy race-winner. Frost was second, with 2019 Ginetta G40 Cup ‘Chairmans Cup’ champion Alderslade in third.
The early issues for the rookie top two opened the door for Darren Leung to assume the class lead. In-between the two safety car periods there was a change though, as Yates got ahead to eventually take the win in fourth overall, with Whiteside recovering to second ahead of Leung.
A strong performance from Wes Pearce (Elite Motorsport) saw him drive from 12th on the grid to seventh at the end, while Ginetta regulars Mark Lee (SVG Motorsport) and Assetto Motorsport duo Lee Goldsmith and Julian Wantling rounded out the top ten.
Ramyead took advantage of the mid-race safety car to impressively climb back from 19th to ninth at one stage before unfortunately retiring before the finish. That meant Edward Acres and Tom Hartley Jnr came away with top five finishes in the rookie class.
The first of two races on Sunday began with a fast-starting Alderslade taking the race lead from pole-sitter Trice and Whiteside, who himself rose from fifth to third. Ramyead joined them to make it a four way battle for the lead in the early stages.
After a few laps, the racing was halted for a lengthy safety car period. This set up a grandstand finish with only two laps remaining when the action restarted, and Trice duly delivered an epic conclusion as he stormed past Alderslade on the final corner of the race for his second win.
An opportunistic Whiteside followed him through for second and the rookie win, with Alderslade just fending off Ramyead for third in a photo-finish. Wantling ran fifth for the majority of the race, before Yates and Leung got past on the final lap to secure top six finishes.
Reigning G40 Cup ‘Chairmans Cup’ champion Lee was next up ahead of Frost, Pearce and Goldsmith. After stalling on the grid, Martin Wills (Assetto Motorsport) impressively fought back from the rear of the field to 12th ahead of Gary Wager (SF Racing).
The final race of the weekend saw a lightning getaway from Ramyead promote him from fourth to the race lead heading into Paddock Hill Bend for the first time, with Trice in hot pursuit. Behind, an incident in the battle for third led to Yates and Whiteside retiring, and a safety car period.
After the restart, Ramyead produced an impressive performance to keep Trice at bay for a number of laps. Sadly his defence broke with a slide wide at Stirlings Bend on the penultimate lap, which allowed Trice through to complete a dream hat-trick for the weekend.
As Ramyead scored his first rookie win in second, Alderslade completed a 100% podium record for the weekend after running third throughout. Frost impressively rose from ninth on the grid to fourth ahead of Goldsmith and Lee, who each scored their first top six result.
Wills briefly took fourth from Frost in the second half of the race, but slipped back to seventh at the chequered flag in his ‘pink panther’ G56. Acres was the second best rookie in eighth ahead of Neil Wallace (SVG Motorsport), Wager and Wantling.
After enduring some rotten luck in the first two races, Danny Dwyer ended the weekend with some rookie silverware with third in class. Shawn Fleming (SF Racing) scored a weekend best of 14th, while Robin Grimwood (Assetto Motorsport) had picked up a highest result of 12th overall in the opener.
The 2021 Ginetta GT Academy grid now face a lengthy seven week break before they return to the British GT Championship support bill at Donington Park (10/11 July).
Full session results from the weekend are available at tsl-timing.com/event/212005
The live streams of races two and three can be watched back at youtube.com/ginettatv