First Person: Mark Croft

...Mark croft is the petrol head husband of former atomic kitten kerry katona. Among his many toys he has a new found passion for all things Ducati...

Waking up next to an Atomic Kitten is always nice, it was even nicer the morning she asked me if I wanted a new motorbike. I thought “there is some thing in this,” so I quizzed her. She just said I could get one if I wanted one, so I went out and bought a 2007 R1. But I found it hard to ride, especially compared to the ‘98 one I’d owned a few years earlier. I didn’t feel safe so I sold it after 400 miles.

I started riding on an FZR400RR 10 years ago, then I got a ZX-7R. Next I had a ’98 R1 when they first came out, which was absolutely nuts. After that I kicked them into touch for a while and got married to Kerry, who said I could never have another bike, she was dead against them. That’s why it was a surprise when she offered me one out of the blue.

I used to be a cab driver in Cheshire, but don’t think I was one of them annoying cabbies, I’ve always been into bikes so I used to keep my eye out for them when I was working.

When I had the 2007 R1 I was passing Ducati Manchester and thought “I’ll just nip in.” I didn’t want to ride anything, I just wanted to flog the bike. I never liked the 916, I’d had a go on a mate’s one, everyone used to take the piss saying it was like riding a tractor and I swore I’d never own one. But the manager talked me into riding a 1098S. I came back after half an hour and said “I’ll have one of them.” It was ace, although I think my R1 would beat it in a straight line. When the manager of the store told me that there was an R version coming I got all excited and ordered one. I ended up with the first 1098R in the country. While I was waiting I rode my 1098S to Valencia, me and a mate went down for the last GP round of the season, 3,400 miles in total, taking in the Millau Bridge. It was a cracking trip.

When I got on my 1098R I went to see some of my mates that were doing a track day, people were saying there’s not much difference between the R and the S, I said the difference was ten grand, which a lot of people can’t afford, that’s the difference. If Ducati said ‘pay an extra two grand and we will give you all this extra power’ everyone would do it. But because the difference is virtually the price of another bike it’s harder to justify. I got offered a Desmosedici, but I wouldn’t say that’s a proper Ducati because it’s a four cylinder, I’ve always associated Ducati’s as being twins. £40K for a road bike? It seems ridiculous for a bike that only makes 10bhp more than the R.

I’m so into the Monster thing at the minute, me and a mate have bought a S4R each. It has turned into a game to see who can get the most trick bits on. Kerry doesn’t know but I’ve spent a flippin’ fortune on it. I enjoy riding it so much that I have just sold my 1098R, it was alright if you wanted to go balls out and blow everything off the road, but you just couldn’t ride it slow, it begs to be nailed. You’ve got to be a test pilot to ride an R properly on the road and I’m no Jamie Whitham or anyone like that, so I got rid of it.

Kerry comes out on the bike with me now, she enjoys it, but she gets bored because she has no one to talk to while we’re riding. She comes to watch the racing with me as well. We were at Donington for the British GP. I went with Ducati UK but it was Rossi I really wanted to see. Even though Stoner caned everybody on the Ducati he will never be Rossi.

We don’t care what the gutter press say about us, they say shit all the time. But they have never had any pictures of anything and we are followed 24 hours a day by the paparazzi. I don’t really use the bike to escape from the press, I’ve got a Porsche 911 that will do that just as well as a bike. On a bike no one knows who we are and we can get around no problem. People recognise us when we go where other bikers are, but it’s never nasty comments that we get. Other bikers don’t really care who we are they just want to say hello and have a look at the bike. No one comes over and bothers us about our private lives. It’s perfect. The bike provides me with a great tension release, when I want a blast I get the bike out. There are a lot of country roads where we live and I can scream around the roads. It’s not always about escapism, I just like going fast. I love everything about bikes, always have done regardless of what bike I can afford to ride.