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Jerez day three - Zonta tops the times 11 Mar 2005

Ricardo Zonta (BRA) Toyota TF104B. Formula One Testing, Jerez, Spain, 10-16 January 2005. World © Bumstead/Sutton

Toyota lead as champions prepare new challenger

Ferrari’s new F2005 tested alongside rival teams for the first time on Thursday, but it was Toyota’s Ricardo Zonta who set the pace as preparations continued for the forthcoming Malaysian Grand Prix.

Zonta, in the older TF104B rather than the latest TF105 machine, clocked a best time of 1m 15.708s after 91 laps, to finish just over half a second ahead of McLaren’s Alexander Wurz, also in an evolution of a 2004 car, the MP4-19B. Wurz racked up 150 laps, the most of any driver present.

Renault joined the Jerez test on Thursday, with test driver Franck Montagny in the latest R25 and driver development programme member Heikki Kovalainen in the older R24. Both their programmes focussed on tyre evaluation and they finished third and ninth respectively in the times.

Ralf Schumacher, the only 2005 race driver present, was fourth fastest in the 2005 Toyota and then came the Ferrari F2005 in the hands of official tester Luca Badoer. The Italian ran 76 laps in the new machine, concentrating on set-up. Team mate Marc Gene was tenth fastest in the F2004 M after 64 laps of a Bridgestone tyre programme.

The sole Williams of Antonio Pizzonia finished sixth. The Brazilian had a varied programme, including tyres, evaluating cooling options for Malaysia and brake development for Bahrain and San Marino.

Anthony Davidson was eighth fastest for BAR, despite going off into the tyre barriers at Turn 10 midway through the morning session. The damage to the 007 was quickly repaired and he was back on track in the afternoon, eventually completing 124 laps. In the team’s 2004 chassis, Enrique Bernoldi went fractionally quicker after 122 laps of Michelin tyre work.

Testing continues at Jerez on Friday.

Unofficial Thursday times from Jerez:
1. Ricardo Zonta, Toyota (Michelin), 1:15.708
2. Alexander Wurz, McLaren (Michelin), 1:16.308
3. Franck Montagny, Renault (Michelin), 1:17.003
4. Ralf Schumacher, Toyota (Michelin), 1:17.417
5. Luca Badoer, Ferrari (Bridgestone), 1:18.116
6. Antonio Pizzonia, Williams (Michelin), 1:18.135
7. Enrique Bernoldi, BAR (Michelin), 1:18.245
8. Anthony Davidson, BAR (Michelin), 1:18.260
9. Heikki Kovalainen, Renault (Michelin), 1:18.324
10. Marc Gene, Ferrari (Bridgestone), 1:18.349