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Soap star hopes to clean up on track at Brands Hatch

Friday, April 26 2013

Coronation Street actor Tony Hirst swapped a television studio for the race track as he prepared for his debut season of racing at Brands Hatch this Saturday (27 April), with a test at the circuit.

The actor, who plays Fireman Paul Kershaw in the long-running soap opera, got behind the wheel of a Morgan sportscar, which he will be racing in the Aero Racing Morgan Challenge series. It's the realisation of a lifelong ambition: "It's always been a passion, mum and dad were huge petrolheads, they never raced but they always watched motorsport. Oulton Park and Silverstone were their circuits and then I first came to Brands Hatch in 85 for the European Grand Prix, which was in the great Prost/Senna era."

Despite starring in a north west-based show, he's familiar with the venue: "I don't live that far away, so I always come to Brands Hatch. I was asked to do a race last year with Morgan and from that they asked me if I'd like to have a go in their Aero Challenge series this year with a brand new factory prepared race ready road car. It's absolutely beautiful and today's our first day out in it, I'm racing her in the Challenge tomorrow with the 750 Motor Club.

"I'm a complete novice but I'm looking forward to it, it's a huge learning curve and just being out today, what a great circuit it is. The amount of hours I've spent here watching, to see it from a different perspective is just brilliant. Paddock Hill is great. My head tells me to brake early and slow down more but you realise you can brake later and carry a lot of speed into it, it just needs that real commitment and guts!"

With racing films making a comeback to the big screen, Tony only has one role in mind: "Le Mans the remake - that would be great! That was one of my silly passions as a kid, to always race at Le Mans. However I like the notion that this is separate. Just before I went out for the first session this morning, the boys asked how I was and I said it's exactly the same as when you're in the wings on stage, the moment the curtain goes up, you would rather be anywhere else in the world. Then of course when the curtain goes up you're fine! It's the same as here, when you're out on track it's brilliant, but that moment just before you go out I just thought 'what the hell am I doing here'!"

You can see Tony Hirst race in the Aero Racing Morgan Challenge at Brands Hatch tomorrow (Saturday). Tickets are available for just £13 on the gate with free entry for children aged 12 and under. For more information call 08453 453 9000 or click here.