Mark Conlin set for debut season in British Supersport Championship
Belfast lad Mark Conlin is all set for a debut season in the British Supersport Championship after finally going under the knife to repair a troublesome shoulder injury.
The 26-year-old was runner up in the Irish Supersport championship back in 2013 and winning the Ulster equivalent in the same year, but a damaged Acromioclavicular [AC] joint in his right shoulder has frustratingly hampered his progress. So it would be fair to say he cannot wait to start with a clean slate in 2016.
"I finally had the shoulder repaired last June, and although I don't want to moan about it, the injury really has held me back. For two seasons I wasn't able to race to my full potential, or sometimes not at all.
"It did restrict me and was very frustrating, so I feel the chance to go to BSB and have a genuine crack at the Supersport class has maybe come two years later than expected, but better late than never," he chirped.
Fitting in a day job as a delivery driver for local company Euro Car Parts and working on motorcycles, and his fitness in the evenings, has always been part of the fabric of the privateer racer, which Conlin says he fully enjoys.
"It's always been just my dad and myself ever since I started racing, but that's how everyone starts off as a privateer," he said. "I enjoy that side of it and although it would be great to have a sponsor to cover costs, or even a team to be part of, we get on with it and that's part of the buzz."
His father Ken, like many racing dads, has bankrolled Mark's racing from the early days on a 125GP machine in the Irish Clubmans' Championship and 2016 will be no different - a 2014 spec. 675cc Triumph, previously campaigned by Dean Hipwell, has been purchased for this season.
"Dad has been the mainstay of the funding, which I'm always very grateful for, and this year we also have support from Kirkland of Kilmore Farms. But we need to keep fundraising if we are to complete a full season, and I need to be getting decent enough results to attract these sponsors," was Conlin's honest summing up of the year ahead in British championship.
The Ballyhackamore-based racer will kick-start his season at the Enkalon Trophy event at Bishopscourt on Easter Friday and Saturday, March 25/26, but will skip Easter Monday at Kirkistown to get his first taste of BSB action.
"The BSB season starts a bit later this year, with the first round not until April 8/9/10 but there's a Silverstone test before then, which will mean missing Easter Monday," he explained.
Looking ahead to 2016, he concluded: "I believe I have the ability to race with the guys in BSB after competing on a wildcard at Brands Hatch in 2014 which went quite well.
"My plan this year is simple - to try and beat some of the class regulars and hopefully attract some support. Maybe then I can continue in the championship. It will be a huge task learning the circuits and getting on the pace in qualifying against riders who know the tracks inside out, but I really cannot wait to get stuck in."