One of the new faces gracing the British Touring Car Championship paddock is one that will be more familiar to some than others. The Checkered Flag caught up with BTCC’s new boy, Kelvin Fletcher.
To the avid soap enthusiast heading through the Brands Hatch entry gates, the face behind the wheel of the #84 Power Maxed Racing Chevrolet Cruze is more well-known as Andy Sugden, a household name of the long-running farm-friendly TV classic, Emmerdale.
To the more avid motorsport fan however, the name Kelvin Fletcher is one that rolls off the tongue more naturally, dovetailing a hobby close to his heart alongside a successful acting career.
Having collected silverware in his three active racing seasons driving at national and club level in the likes of Ginettas, Porsches and V de V Challenge single seaters, Fletcher now dives into the BTCC battleground for a major new step in his career, a challenge he is already relishing.
Speaking on a sunny Saturday morning at Brands Hatch, Fletcher commented on the learning curve as one of the six BTCC rookies of the 2016 season.
“It is pretty exciting”, he said to TCF. “[Saturday] was the first time in the car properly, so it’s important to get some laps under my belt.
“We did have a slight problem with an alternator in the morning, so we had to come in and that cost us a bit of time there. But, we’re just getting a feel for it at the moment and tootling around getting an idea for the car and what not.”
Compared to his experience in sportscars, Fletcher said that the switch to touring cars will start tentatively as he builds up miles in the Cruze over the opening meeting.
“It is very different, but I’ve not been able to really push hard enough to tell how different it is. I’ve not had much testing either, so it’s a little bit of a blank canvas at the moment.
“Obviously the changes come from front-wheel drive and the car’s turbo, which are initial stark changes that come from the BTCC.”
Those differences, although alarming from outside to both fans and drivers alike, were made more distinct after Fletcher eased into his first miles at the Kent circuit in the Cruze.
Most recently, several newcomers have found BTCC machinery more battling to get to grips with, something the 32-year-old immediately appreciated after his opening day in the new environment.
“You can sense straight away, even when you’re just tootling around”, he said. “Certainly, when I start pushing, I’ll get a real sense of understanding about the balance and the set-up, then I can see how much of a difference these are to the Porsches.”
Life on the racetrack will be coupled with his ongoing primetime TV commitments this season, making the Power Maxed man one of the most active on and off the grid.
“Always busy!” was Fletcher’s unsurprising response, although with a great deal of heart shown for both his career paths.
Motorsport runs deep in Fletcher’s blood, admitting that a step up to BTCC has lit fire in his belly.
“It’s great. I’m obviously working at Emmerdale at the minute which is brilliant, but now I’m enjoying this as well.
“I’m a motorsport fan. I’ve been on both sides of the fence at these tracks. I’ve been here as a spectator since the late eighties and early nineties and now I’m a race driver so, as a family, we’re enjoying the whole occasion.”
One of six contenders in the running for Jack Sears Trophy honours this season, Fletcher refused to get carried away with targets as early as April, adding: “I’m proud, I’m confident and it’s been fast and furious with acting alongside this. It’s gone from being a bit of a hobby to something that I’m now taking quite seriously.
“Hopefully my performances throughout the year will merit that I deserve to be here – not just being that guy from the TV!”