Paddock Motorsport’s Kelvin Fletcher praised the setup tweaks the team carried out after Free Practice as he scored pole position for the opening Intelligent Money British GT Championship race of the weekend at Oulton Park in comprehensive fashion.
The Bentley Continental GT3 racer scored a rare pole for the car – certainly in the last few years of British GT competition – in pretty dominant fashion as Fletcher set fastest lap after fastest lap to finish with a handy gap over the rest of the field as the chequered flag finally dropped.
“I’m really happy with that, first time at Oulton Park in a GT3. Yesterday was a baptism of fire, GT3 this year didn’t really feel like a massive step up from GT4 even after a year out of racing, but today at Oulton Park it just feels like you are in a completely different beast. It’s an amazing circuit, my local circuit as well, to sting it all together as well was great,” Fletcher explained.
“We’ve gone with a different set-up as well since FP2 so it was a bit of an unknown for me and Martin [Plowman] but as soon as I went out the car felt good and I didn’t get the best out of the tyre but I was happy with that and I was hoping to get in the mid-35s, I think I ended up with a 35.6 so pretty good pace out there.”
He added that the setup change going from Free Practice into qualifying was in response to a different adjustment in practice that didn’t pay off for the team, as they looked to extract as much pace as possible whilst still maintaining confidence around a Cheshire circuit which is very unforgiving of any mistakes.
Fletcher said: “Made few tweaks from FP2, it’s not ideal – you don’t want to be going into quali with a newish setup, a new balance of the car. But thankfully, it paid off. We were at a little bit of a loss in FP2, we went a certain way and we just weren’t feeling good and we wanted to instil the confidence again because Oulton Park requires confidence. If you’re not confident around here you might as well go home.
“The setup change has given us that confidence, and as you can see that’s transferred into a pretty good pace as well.”
By the same token, the 2019 British GT4 champion – alongside Martin Plowman – did acknowledge that getting the top spot was only a job half-done, with plenty of racing still to be done in the opening one-hour encounter to covert that pole to a victory. That said, he does have the Bentley’s size on his size, which could be key round the narrow Oulton track.
“She’s got a big behind hasn’t she? Hopefully it will be hard to pass! I know there is a championship up for grabs this weekend and we’re not in that fight so naturally I’ll have a slight consideration there for those guys, but ultimately we want to win. Certainly I’ll be defending that lead as best I can so hopefully I can get away at the front and get into a good position,” he stated.
“The good thing about the car at the moment is that feels like we’ve got good pace that we can sit at comfortably for a good 30-minute stint so we’ll see how it goes.”
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