“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. I$0027ve lost 13 kilos in about three months.

“And three, if I didn$0027t think I could succeed, not just in the track results, I wouldn$0027t 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 can$0027t 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 he$0027s struggling to adapt to front-wheel drive (but he$0027s 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 I$0027ve been used to for many years is fundamentally invested or completely different. At the moment I don$0027t 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 don$0027t think I can change it and I don$0027t want to, because that$0027s why I signed up,” he says. “It$0027s a different race of races. Once I$0027m comfortable with the car, I$0027ll be happy to get my elbows out.

At least the circuits are familiar, although they haven$0027t 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 it$0027s 1986, Formula Ford 2000! I have closed the circle.

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