“Secondly, at the age I am, yes, business is great” – runs a successful sports management company and takes care of several race drivers, including DTM ace Gary Paffett and sports car driver Mike Conway – “but the lifestyle was getting too much for my fitness…. This gave me a goal. Ive lost 13 kilos in about three months.

“And three, if I didnt think I could succeed, not just in the track results, I wouldnt be doing it.

The high profile of the BTCC, the large turnout and live TV coverage have allowed Mark to bring some of the best sponsors to the show, which is good for business, but he cant help but be disappointed by his form so far. Brands Hatch and Donington Park proved difficult, and this weekend in Thruxton they are likely to offer more of the same.

“I said from day one that it was going to be a challenge and it was exactly that,” he says, acknowledging that hes struggling to adapt to front-wheel drive (but hes in good company on that).

“They are one of the most unique cars to get an effective lap time because the operating window is very small,” he says. “Everything I do to invigorate the change from what Ive been used to for many years is fundamentally invested or completely different. At the moment I dont have a point of reference.

He has no complaint about the notorious rough and tumble of CCBT, even if it is not his style. “I dont think I can change it and I dont want to, because thats why I signed up,” he says. “Its a different race of races. Once Im comfortable with the car, Ill be happy to get my elbows out.

At least the circuits are familiar, although they havent been for a while. At Donington Park, the kids would ask, “When was the last time you ran here,” he smiles, “The answer was 1993, Grand Prix of Europe…. You go to Thruxton and its 1986, Formula Ford 2000! I have closed the circle.

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