Who is MW Racing?
A Stourport based Motorcycle road race team formed by Mark Walker and his closest friends to help him reach his fullest potential at UK based circuits and beyond.
Lets go back to the start:
When did you get your first taste of two wheels?
I got my first taste of two wheels at 15 years old thrashing around a friend's field on a Honda C50 Supercub. It wasnt much but it certainly got me curious.
What was your first bike?
It was a Suzuki Estilete UF50 Scooter. The folks helped buy it for me in 2005 during my time at Worcester College of Technology while studying for an Information Technology qualification. At the time it was just merely more convenient than a bus; nothing more than a means to an end to public transport.
2 years went by using this bike for transport, crashing, fixing and learning how to stay on and then like so many others - it got under my skin and straight into my blood. There was no way back. I had the bug!
Your first proper bike?
I would say an Apache 125 Chinese import (it had gears) but that I can't really talk about that bike without using profanity so I'll talk about my first proper big bike.
The Honda VFR400 NC30 - the first bike I could say I *really* wanted. It also catered to being something couldn't get too out of hand in case I suddenly forgot I was aboard something learner legal. Drop dead gorgeous looks, amazing character to the engine and a mini version of the RC30 from Honda's V4 racing programme in the 80s to early 90s.
Was there anything that could of put you off bikes?
In late 2008 after a period of redundancy, I landed myself an I.T job with a large telecoms firm. Things were looking good. I had the bike I had always wanted and the job to keep it all going. To celebrate the first month of employment I went on my first ever road trip to the City of Blackpool.
After all the enjoyment; on the way to see my friend up in Nottingham I was involved in a serious collision on the M6 Motorway. A Silver Vauxhall Astra smashed up the side of my bike leaving me with a broken tibia, fibia, ankle and wrist.
It was a testing time but out of it - I rebuilt the bike to a higher standard than when I got it and learnt masses about spannering and gave me the confidence that without which, I would not have even considered road racing as I would not have been able to conduct my own repairs!
What made you take the leap from road to track?
I wanted to see just what I and my bike were capable of and with some of the drivers on the road; I felt there was no glory and far too much risk in trying to carry track speeds would mean ending it all in the front wing of Mildred's Mini Metro because she didnt see or hear you coming along doing your best Joey Dunlop impression!
What was your first track experience?
It was a Performance Bikes track day in August 2009 at the Cadwell Park Race Circuit in Louth, Lincolnshire. It was here that I realised what my VFR400 was really about. After a stunning evening of going around as fast as I dared deep down the feeling for racing had started.
How did you go from there to racing?
I was back at Cadwell again the next month of September on a track day with some of the lads from the 400greybike forum. A session or two of blasting around the circuit and one of the lads commented that on me looking pretty rapid round the circuit.
He wasn't a spotter, just merely someone whose opinion could be taken semi-seriously. I knew in my own mind I had potential and the fire in me to give it everything. But to have someone echo it back to you, it was just what I needed. More than enough to get me to give serious thought again about past musings over how I could get into racing. Not long after that I discovered a forum post on how to do just that.
That was it. I had all the information I needed to get started. A few months before the end of 2009, I had decided that the new racing season in 2010 with the East Midlands Racing Association race club was the place to begin my career.
What lessons did you learn after your first season of racing?
I learned , a few things would include;
In converting a road bike to a racer, dont underestimate how long its going to take. Start early. As we were blown away with just how big your list becomes when your bikes little foybles suddenly become huge issues and soak up more time than you thought. We were only just finishing the 2010 bike on the night before raceday and I honestly felt sick with the stress it puts on you.
Forget power-up modifications, focus on suspension. On the race track having a good setup is more important than anything else. A correctly sprung setup means the bike is sprung for your weight front and rear using the middle sweet spot of its travel to support you and the when youre cornering. Tucking the front in your first practice session hurts.
That testing is crucial. It gets you memorising the track and helps you perfect your suspension setup and lets you test out different lines. EMRA had practice and qualifying all in the same session which wasnt much good I felt.
Where do you want to be in the future?
I would like to be at the sharp end of a BSB race leading the British championship. Maybe move on to World Superbike and become the next Carl Fogarty. But I know everyone has to start somewhere, so I shall start with the Formula 400.