Mark bought my '93 Van Diemen FF1600 for the Formula Ford series and finished about fourth before disappearing over to Europe. I followed him overseas in 1997 but with the limited opportunities and backing I had, I really couldn't do any more.
Still, I have no regrets and am just happy to now see an Aussie winning GP races. And what a win it was!
The Monaco track is all about driver talent. It's won in qualifying because you have to be on the front row to have any chance as it's a difficult circuit to pass on. But getting that fast qualifying lap takes a lot of bravery and skill.
I think Mark is a lot more focussed this year because they don't have the car speed and he has to be more determined to give it a go. He's already out-qualified his teammate Sebastian Vettel more times than last year. Let's hope this is his year.
Meanwhile, back here in Australia we're one-third of the way through the season with a few weeks' break before we hit the track at Darwin. We tested at Queensland Raceway this week and had my endurance race co-driver, Warren Luffy, on hand to do some all-important laps.
He's just back from the Nurburgring 24-hour race so it was great to catch up and find out all about it. It's an event I would love to do next year if it doesn't clash with the V8s. However, I have yet to classify for the event and will need to stitch together a deal with Audi to go over and do a shorter event first. We tried last year but unfortunately crashed out and didn't qualify.
At testing this week it was important to get Luffy's input on the car and, like we did with Skaifey, get him used to working with our race engineer, Jeromy (CORRECT) Moore, and building some team morale.
One of the key elements in testing for me was starts after a couple of dud starts this year, especially blowing my pole position at Phillip Island. So I did a lot of race-start simulations as it's our weakest link at the moment.
We also tried some new things with the suspension but there have been no mechanical issues for us this year, so there wasn't much to test in that regard.
It's been difficult trying to continue to develop the current car while also focussing on the Car of the Future (COTF). Our first COTF chassis is probably 75 per cent done and on target for the first permitted test on August 8. I can't wait.
The earlier the better. I've been following the chassis build and everything is going to plan, but I won't get involved until we get further down the track and focus on the steering column and seat, then start track testing.
I don't know how FPR can be thinking about having four cars next year with COTF. They have three cars now and I think some of the issues they had with Reynolds in the pits showed that it would be better to have two complete pit bays rather than three cars in one.
It will take a lot more infrastructure to accommodate them and FPR has the facilities, but I just don't know if they need the extra pressure of four new COTF chassis, plus the added extras such as at least two spare cars. It's a bit of a stretch.
I don't think we will go to four cars. Our Banyo workshops wouldn't accommodate four cars, but the collective data would be twice as good.