The new-for-2021 championship made a welcome return to action after a seven week break since the Brands Hatch season opener. Trice (SVG Motorsport) dominated that weekend with a triple win and he was the driver to beat once again in qualifying on Saturday.
The former GRDC racer stormed to pole position by seven tenths of a second, with his closest challengers being a group of drivers in the rookie class. Whiteside led them by 0.018s from Darren Leung, with Gilbert Yates and Ravi Ramyead close behind too.
Trice went on to convert his pole position into a lights-to-flag win in the opening race on Saturday afternoon. It was by no means an easy ride as he had to fend off some early pressure from the rookie pack and negotiate a safety car restart en-route to victory.
A quick launch from Yates moved him up to second at the start, however he had to pull off circuit into retirement at the end of lap one. Leung therefore held the spot through the safety car period, before Whiteside swept past on the restart as he recovered from a slow start.
Whiteside remained in second to the finish as he tried to catch Trice, securing the rookie class win in the process. Leung followed him home for third overall and second in the rookies, while Wes Pearce (Elite Motorsport) rose from seventh on the grid to fourth.
A fantastic duel played out for fifth place between Ramyead and Martin Wills (Assetto Motorsport), with the latter securing the place late on as Ramyead unfortunately retired from the race. Hot on their heels was Julian Wantling (Assetto Motorsport).
Jorge Calado impressed in his debut race in the championship to complete the rookie podium in seventh, while Roy Alderslade (Assetto Motorsport) posted the fastest lap of the race as he fought back to eighth after stalling on the grid.
Edward Acres was ninth ahead of SF Racing duo Gary Wager and Shawn Fleming, who both started from the pitlane. Danny Dwyer had been running in eighth meanwhile before a spin dropped him to 12th ahead of Neil Wallace (SVG Motorsport) and Robin Grimwood (Assetto Motorsport).
Trice continued his phenomenal run of victories in the first of two races on Sunday. A great launch ensured he stayed in front through the opening lap and as the pack battled behind, he was able to edge clear to take the win by almost four seconds.
A quick start from Ramyead allowed him to dive past Whiteside for second into Redgate for the first time. He remained there for a large portion of the race, however a late spin at the Melbourne hairpin dropped him out of podium contention.
Whiteside took full advantage to secure a second consecutive rookie win, with Pearce climbing up to third overall behind. A close duel for fourth developed during the race, as Yates defended the place from the recovering Leung, who had dropped back with a slow start.
Leung made a move into the Melbourne hairpin late on but spun his car, ensuring Yates took fourth at the chequered flag. Calado came through from tenth from fifth at the finish ahead of Leung, while Lee Goldsmith (Assetto Motorsport) bounced back from a race one DNF in seventh.
Ramyead eventually took the chequered flag in eighth ahead of Dwyer and Wantling. Tom Hartley Jnr just missed out on the top ten in 11th, having been battling in the top six in race one before retiring, with Grimwood, Fleming, Wallace, Acres and Wager following him home.
The final race of the weekend began with a rocket start from Pearce propelling his Ginetta G56 GTA from third on the grid into the race lead. Trice slotted into second, while Yates passed Whiteside for third position at the end of the opening lap.
As Pearce led the early stages, Yates mounted a challenge for second however contact between the two resulted in Trice spinning down the order. Yates got second but was quickly under pressure from Whiteside and they swapped positions on lap seven.
Whiteside then closed the gap to leader Pearce and a grandstand finish saw him get ahead on the last lap to become only the second driver to win a GT Academy race. Second was Pearce’s new personal best in the championship, while Yates finished third on the road.
Post-race though he was handed a penalty for his involvement in the incident with Trice, which put him below his adversary in the final result. Calado was next across the finish line, however a track limits penalty for him dropped him down the classified finishing order as well.
It was Leung therefore in third ahead of Ramyead, with those two having enjoyed a great battle with Calado through the race. Trice recovered well from his spin to ultimately end up fifth ahead of Yates and Calado, while Wantling finished eighth to cap off a strong day of racing for him.
Following a DNF in race two, Alderslade found himself at the rear of the field in the finale after a moment at Redgate on lap one. The former G40 Cup ‘Chairmans Cup’ champion fought back well to ninth ahead of Grimwood, who completed a trio of Assetto Motorsport cars in the top ten.
The 2021 Ginetta GT Academy season continues in four weeks’ time as they once again join the British GT Championship support bill at Snetterton (07/08 August).
Full session results from the weekend are available at tsl-timing.com/event/212705
The live streams of races two and three can be watched back at youtube.com/ginettatv