Mark and the team were at Darley as early as I was on Friday afternoon and it was really enjoyable to spend some time with him while things were a little less serious and I found him to be such a friendly guy that I warmed to him immediately as it seems everyone in and around the paddock already has.
Another of the Magnificent Seven with a tightly packed schedule Mark was entered in the Allcomers (600-1300cc), Open Solo and Newcomers Handicap which meant the Nottingham man would have plenty of track time on race day.
Sadly things didn’t go as planned with the bike simply refusing to rev above 8000rpm or give Mark any confidence during qualifying and in the 2nd of the Open Solo races the bike suddenly lost drive leaving no choice but to call an end to proceedings and round 1 was over and done with.
Despite the problems on Saturday and in qualifying on Sunday morning Mark took his place on the grid for the Allcomers race and after two red flag incidents and a delay to the restart he brought the Suzuki home just outside the top ten in 12th position.
In the first Open Solo race and with the machine now starting to once again give Mark cause for concern he managed to battle both the bike and a field very deep in talent to take the chequered flag in 20th place. There was then time to have a look at the bike in the paddock and with some input, support and help from other riders and reigning Darley champ Shane Pearson Mark managed to take the grid for the second of the Open Solo races of the day but sadly that was about as good as it got for the very likeable Notts rider.
Having made the start of the race the bike simply couldn’t take any more and Mark made the tough decision to put the machine out of its misery and brought it back down the pitlane to end things for the day.
Mark would like to pass on his thanks to everyone that helped on the day, both the team and his competitors came together to try their very best to keep him out there but it simply wasn’t to be.
*On Tuesday evening Mark made the shock announcement that his season, and indeed his racing career was over. Even though I have only just met him I know, with absolute certainty, he will be sorely missed in the paddock. I would like to thank Mark for his support, hospitality and friendly welcome and wish him the very best for the future whatever it holds, to me he was racing personified.