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Jerez Day Three - Montagny from Sato 13 Feb 2004

Franck Montagny, Renault R23, Jerez testing, 7 January 2004

Renault and BAR battled it out for the fastest time at Jerez on Thursday and in the end it was the former's test driver, Franck Montagny, who took the honours. The Frenchman, in Renault's 2003 R23 car, was little over a tenth of a second faster than Takuma Sato in the latest BAR 006.

Montagny concluded the ride programme he began on Wednesday and also conducted some tyre evaluation, completing a longer run on Melbourne-spec tyres. In the R24, Jarno Trulli carried on with general set-up work and also practised manual starts (launch control has been banned for the new season). The Italian was third fastest.

Renault's Executive Director of Engineering, Pat Symonds, was delighted with their progress: "It was the same story today as previously in the week: we completed our programme, and ran competitively and reliably with the new car. We didn't have any problems, and we are extremely pleased with the work we have accomplished this week."

At BAR, Sato ran more than 100 laps in the 006 to bring the Honda-powered team's three-day programme to a close. Joining the Japanese star was test driver Anthony Davidson, who went 12th fastest on his first day in the new car. The team will be back on track at Valencia next week.

Sauber moved up the timesheets as they too finished a three-day stint at Jerez, with Felipe Massa and Giancarlo Fisichella setting almost identical times to go fourth and fifth. The Swiss team head to Imola next week.

"Today we focused on mechanical set-up scans and cooling configuration checks concerning the Melbourne race," reported Sauber's Chief Race Engineer, Jacky Eeckelaert. "We also completed the Bridgestone tyre compounds work with Giancarlo which was originally scheduled for yesterday. In the afternoon we changed the engine of his car as it has reached its given mileage.

"After the problems yesterday we were still able to catch up and to complete our test programme. Considering that we ran nearly 2,000 kilometres in three days with both cars we can say that we reached our set target of this week."

McLaren were the quickest of the 'big three' teams, with Kimi Raikkonen in sixth, just ahead of Williams and Ferrari rivals Juan Pablo Montoya and Rubens Barrichello, both testing for the first time this week. Montoya carried out general set-up work on the FW26, with team mate Ralf Schumacher (10th) focussed on aerodynamics and tyres.

Jaguar again had Mark Webber and Christian Klien in action, while at fellow Cosworth runners Jordan, Nick Heidfeld was at the wheel of the sole EJ14, the German driver carrying out a race simulation and tyre work.

"We were able to do a lot of laps today and found a couple of technical problems which is normal at this stage with a new car, as far as I am concerned," said Heidfeld. "I'm confident that we can sort them out before Melbourne. Although there's still work to do, it was a good day as we made a lot of progress in terms of lap time and the car is feeling better."

James Robinson, Head of Race and Test Engineering, added, "It was small a milestone for the EJ14 today, completing over 400km on the car's third day of full testing. We did parts of a race simulation, while continuing work on the tyre programme and other car related issues. The car stopped on the track just before the end of the session, however we know why it happened and as such it was a very productive day - a credit to the people in the factory who have given us very strong support."

Conditions at Jerez were again perfect on Thursday, with track temperatures reaching 27 degrees Celsius. Testing continues on Friday.

Unofficial Thursday times from Jerez:
1. Franck Montagny, Renault (Michelin), 1:17.058
2. Takuma Sato, BAR (Michelin), 1:17.172
3. Jarno Trulli, Renault (Michelin), 1:17.258
4. Felipe Massa, Sauber (Bridgestone), 1:17.344
5. Giancarlo Fisichella, Sauber (Bridgestone), 1:17.362
6. Kimi Raikkonen, McLaren (Michelin), 1:17.521
7. Juan Pablo Montoya, Williams (Michelin), 1:17.548
8. Rubens Barrichello, Ferrari (Bridgestone), 1:17.634
9. Mark Webber, Jaguar (Michelin), 1:17.719
10. Ralf Schumacher, Williams (Michelin), 1:17.782
11. Christian Klien, Jaguar (Michelin), 1:18.244
12. Alexander Wurz, McLaren (Michelin), 1:18.607
13. Anthony Davidson, BAR (Michelin), 1:18.704
14. Nick Heidfeld, Jordan (Bridgestone), 1:19.440