Emmerdale star Fletcher aiming to push to the limit at Donington Park
Emmerdale actor Kelvin Fletcher is aiming to make a big impression in the British Touring Car Championship (BTCC) at Donington Park this weekend (16-17 April).
The 32-year-old, who is best known for playing Andy Sugden in the popular ITV soap, has already dabbled his hand at racing in Mini championships and in Porsches, but racing in the BTCC brings with it the added pressure of widespread coverage, not to mention the ferocious cut and thrust nature of the racing action!
But Fletcher, who races with the Power Maxed team and drives a Chevrolet Cruze in the championship, has already proven his worth with a strong debut performance at the season opener at Brands Hatch, where he recorded a best race finish of 25th out of the record 32-strong entry. But he also showed massive progress with his lap times, and was lapping only half a second away from the outright pace during the races - this with only three years racing experience under his belt.
Now more used to his car, Fletcher is hoping to further explore his potential this weekend: “I’ve raced at Donington a couple of times before, and I love it. I’ve ridden it on a bike and driven it in a car so I know which way it goes and I’m confident we can start to push on. It’s a tricky track but also a bit more forgiving so I’m going to be pushing and really trying to find the limits of the car. Hopefully with a bit of seat time, my lap times will keep tumbling down!”
Fletcher was announced as a BTCC driver during the Season Launch day, held at Donington on 22 March. Like most drivers, the Oldham resident was drawn to the series by its international stature, and has been a keen follower since his early days. “The BTCC is a massive championship and it’s something I’ve wanted to do since I was a kid. When the opportunity came up to race in the championship, it was an absolute no brainer for me. There was an option to race in Porsches again, but I’m living the dream at the moment, and who knows, I may never have had another chance to race in the series again. I may be in it too much too soon, but I’m already in the thick of it, I was within a second of the big boys at the first round, so I hope to keep progressing and push on from here.
“Ideally I want to be in this for the long haul. I feel I’ve got the tools and the talent to do that. The first year in anything is always a learning year but if there are options to make it a three year programme or more, that would be incredible. I’m still getting used to all the controls in the car, so I’m learning all about the red lights that come on and the different alarms going off in the car, the last thing I want to do is blow an engine! But at the moment I’m just taking each race as it comes.”
Of course it’s not just the racing that takes up Fletcher’s time. As a long term character with over 20 years on Emmerdale, he has to find a balance between work and racing. “It’s a bit of a struggle really” he admits. “Being involved with Emmerdale is obviously very busy, I love being involved with it, and in a way it’s enabled me to get this drive in the BTCC. I’ve think I’ve already proven my ability as a racing driver, but appreciate there’s a bit of a PR spin with this too. But at the same time I’m still that guy off the TV so there isn’t as much pressure on me as there may be with one of the big boys.
“Racing in the BTCC has been an amazing experience so far. There are some unbelievably quick guys in this championship but I’ve raced against some quick guys in the past in Porsches as well. But this is only my third year of racing so whatever I do is a bit of a step into the unknown. But I’m loving every minute of it, and want to get quicker and quicker.”
To see Kelvin Fletcher go wheel to wheel with the established stars of the British Touring Car Championship, book your tickets in advance from the Donington Park website. Tickets are available from £11.25 with free admission for children aged 13 and under. The paddock will be open during the event so fans can meet the drivers, and spectators can also participate in the pit lane walkabout on Sunday morning, where drivers will be signing autographs. For more information and to book tickets, click here.