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Paul Ricard Day Three - Sato keeps BAR ahead 14 May 2004

Takuma Sato (JPN) BAR Honda 005.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 5, Spanish Grand Prix, Barcelona, Spain, 7 May 2004

It was Takuma Sato’s turn to top the timesheets on Thursday as BAR again dominated this week’s pre-Monaco test. Rain once more hampered proceedings when an afternoon thunder storm brought an early end to the session.

In the morning conditions were largely perfect at the French circuit, which had been switched to a Monaco simulation layout for the final two days of the week. Sato racked up over 100 laps on his way to a best time of 1m 10.830s, working on tyres for Monte Carlo and Canada, before gearbox problems and the weather halted his programme.

Kimi Raikkonen joined the test with McLaren and went second fastest, three tenths down on Sato after 39 laps. Team mate David Coulthard was fourth, with the Renault of Franck Montagny splitting them in the times. Montagny worked on set-ups and tyres during the morning, before switching to evaluation of electronic developments in the afternoon.

"A positive day overall for the team,” reported Christian Silk, Renault’s Chief Test Engineer. “We finally managed to get a full day's work done, and that allowed us to make good progress with the R24. Franck evaluated Monaco tyres and the compounds looked promising. The car seems quick here, and we hope our final day at Paul Ricard tomorrow will prove as productive."

Juan Pablo Montoya was the leading Williams in fifth, with team tester Marc Gene seventh. Both men concentrated on aero and tyre development with the FW26, completing over 150 laps between them. And at Toyota, Cristiano da Matta joined team mate Olivier Panis, taking over from third driver Ricardo Zonta. The pair were sixth and eighth quickest respectively in the TF104.

Jordan were again the sole Bridgestone team present, with Giorgio Pantano putting in 75 laps of Monaco set-up work in the EJ14. He will hand over to third driver Timo Glock for Friday’s final day of running.

Unofficial Thursday times from Paul Ricard:
1. Takuma Sato, BAR (Michelin), 1:30.830
2. Kimi Raikkonen, McLaren (Michelin), 1:31.130
3. Franck Montagny, Renault (Michelin), 1:31.437
4. David Coulthard, McLaren (Michelin), 1:31.446
5. Juan Pablo Montoya, Williams (Michelin), 1:31.632
6. Cristiano da Matta, Toyota, (Michelin), 1:31.843
7. Marc Gene, Williams (Michelin), 1:32.628
8. Olivier Panis, Toyota, (Michelin), 1:33.391
9. Giorgio Pantano, Jordan (Bridgestone), 1:33.500