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That time of the year

Posted by Mark Deans on Thursday, April 29, 2004

There's something about April that always makes me think of Mark. Circuit of Ireland in the Group A Turbo Escort it must have been. April 1985. These were pre-Roger Ford days (lucky Roger given what an unpredictable rascal that car turned out to be) and with JT making all those encouraging noises from the side of the road (and across the service areas) my formative years in Motorsport began. Mark and Roger were simply the funniest, most frustrating, most unmanageable, nicest people I have had the pleasure to work with. Supported by the Carlisle Mafia (Mike and Jim Little) their British crown in 1986 was so well deserved. I recall at one point, on the aptly named National Breakdown, I think, christening Mark "Shit for Brains" for which I now apologise (sort of). Memories also pick out The Scottish of 1986 had the famous RS200 barrel roll and Mark's subsequent "confusion" over his name when stopped by the police for speeding.... ('Nuff said). The Manx of 1987 saw what was, for me, their greatest ever drive. Having snotted the Sierra Cosworth on the first bend of the first stage, after discovering that the frictional co-efficient of cow dung is nil, they were all but last. By the end of day 2 they were back to second, behind Jimmy McRae and closing. I rarely got the chance to watch the events themselves, but we saw Mark and Roger that day and they were simply in a class of their own. As Mark switched the engine off in service that evening he clambered from the car and said to me "that's it, I can't go any faster" Roger looked up and said "thank f*** for that". It said it all.
I have no doubt that they are up there now, looking down on us all! All, apart perhaps, from the bloke in Belfast that they hired an Escort from when they broke one of the Boreham recce cars and then broke its gearbox. To save their skins we brought a new box over from Boreham before the rally, but in their haste they grabbed the wrong crate and presented the gentleman concerned with the rear axle from an RS200. He thought they were taking the p*** which, just for once, they weren't. Bless 'em both.



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