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Emmerdale’s Kelvin Fletcher set for BTCC debut this weekend

Wednesday, March 30 2016

TV's Kelvin Fletcher, known to millions as Emmerdale's Andy Sugden, will make his debut in the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship, the UK's biggest car racing series at Brands Hatch circuit this weekend (2/3 April).

The 32-year-old has been a fan of the championship, which races at Britain's top circuits including Brands Hatch, Silverstone and Donington, since childhood.  "My dad was a mechanic," he said. "So by about six or seven-years-old there were stories of me going to bed with a spanner every night - that was my comfort blanket. I was obsessed with obsessed with cars and anything with an engine. Naturally I wanted to be like my dad."

Kelvin made his motor racing debut in 2012, racing classic Minis, before stepping up to Porsche sportscars. This weekend he'll step into motor racing's big league with a Chevrolet Cruze.

Speaking about his brief racing career, Kelvin said: "My racing career has been a baptism of fire, because I've gone from a 60 horsepower Mini, which was effectively a road car, into a 420 horsepower Porsche with slick tyres and a sequential gearbox. Stepping into the Chevrolet this weekend will be the first time I've driven the car, quite literally I've jumped right in the deep end!"

Kelvin's debut will be watched by thousands of fans at Brands Hatch this weekend. "I am used to getting recognised and having millions of people watching on TV," he said. "That's something that certainly I can hopefully use to my advantage, because I'm used to working in high-pressure environments and having to pull out some pretty emotional and challenging scenes where your focus is absolutely key. When you've on the grid waiting for the lights to go out, things like that are just the same when you're focussing - the more relaxed you are the better you'll drive."

It's a hectic schedule for the actor, whose alter ego Andy Sugden is currently embroiled in one of Emmerdale's big storylines. "I am so busy with Emmerdale at the minute," Kelvin said. "Which is fantastic, and I guess that's enabled me to be where I am now in order to get a BTCC drive. I think [Olympic cyclist-turned racer] Chris Hoy is pretty quick, but to get in most people's living rooms every week and also race in the pinnacle of British motorsport is pretty unique."

Kelvin also thinks that Andy Sugden would be a fan of the BTCC, where there is plenty of rough and tumble in the races, admitting that: "It is a bit of a soap opera, there seem to be a few dramas on and off the track."

"I think he'd like it, I can't imagine he'd not like the BTCC. If you've been to a race and you've listened to the start and the engines are popping and cracking and they're on the limit, that noise is just so exciting, regardless of whether or not you're a car fan."

Tickets for the opening rounds of the BTCC at Brands Hatch on 2/3 April are available in advance from £27, with free entry for under-13s, and you can read more about Kelvin's debut in the official event programme, available for £5. For more information call 0843 453 9000 or visit www.brandshatch.com