CLACTON’S Jesse Chamberlain made his debut in the Protyre Motorsport Ginetta GT5 Challenge event, at Oulton Park.

He was racing for Richardson Racing, as part of their new line-up for 2019.

With only limited testing prior to the season-opener, Chamberlain headed for the Cheshire circuit hoping to enjoy a solid start to the campaign and lined up 27th.

This was due to a gearbox issue in qualification which only allowed him to complete one flying lap.

Nevertheless, he came through a typically-busy opening lap unscathed, having already made up four places from his starting position and battled his way to 19th – lapping nearly two seconds quicker than he had been able to in qualifying.

The grid for race two was determined by a driver’s second-quickest qualifying time, with Chamberlain once again starting 27th.

He quickly fought his way into the top 20 before contact on the fifth lap saw him lose places, with his race ultimately coming to a premature end when he went off into the gravel in the closing stages.

Unfortunately for Chamberlain, his weekend ended early when a fuel issue meant he was unable to take the start for race three.

“With very limited testing, I knew it was going to be a challenging weekend and I was on the back foot after qualifying, when I wasn’t able to set a representative time,” he said.

“It’s a hard circuit to overtake but I’ve always raced better than I qualify and to come through and finish in the top 20 in race one was really good and something I was happy with, considering where I started.

“I have to hold my hands up to a few mistakes in race two that ultimately cost me but they’re the kind of things I’ll learn from and.

“Then we had some kind of fuel issue on the way to the grid for race three that meant I couldn’t take the start.

“Obviously I hoped for more than a single-race finish but I’m learning every time I get in the car and know there’s still a lot more to come.

“It’s been a while since I raced on slicks and the Ginetta is very different to the cars I’ve raced in the past, but I’m confident I’ll soon be pushing up towards the top ten.

“I’ve got to say thanks to my family and sponsors, Dalau and Instant Images, as well as the team, for getting me out on track, and hopefully we can take a step forwards next time out.”

The next outing will be at Thruxton on May 19 for the first of two meetings this season running alongside the British Touring Car Championship.

The event is being screened live on ITV4.

“Hopefully we’ve found all the gremlins early on,” added Chamberlain.

“I’m proud to have my name in the championship and these paddocks and I feel we can be in the top ten.

“It’s a hard-fought championship with the top ten having 40-plus years of experience in Ginettas alone.

“However, we’ve definitely made progress and I’m learning every time I’m in and around the car.

“The aim of the year is to be a sponge and take everything in, accumulate sponsors and get to a level where I can really give it a go next year.

“Of course, I want to be winning but, in reality, it’s a very hard task and so I’m happy with the top ten.”