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Jerez day one - Toyota test alone in Spain 13 Dec 2006

Kohei Hirate (JPN) Toyota talks with an engineer. Formula One Testing, Day 1, Jerez, Spain. 6 December. World ©  Bumstead/Sutton.

The Toyota team kicked off the final test session of the year at Jerez on Tuesday, a day earlier than the rest of the field. With the other teams expected to arrive on Wednesday, test driver Franck Montagny and Toyota Young Driver programme member Kohei Hirate were the only men in action.

Montagny proved to be the quicker of the two, clocking a best lap of 1m 20.073s - over a second faster than Hirate. The Frenchman completed 79 laps of the Spanish circuit, working through a variety of suspension set-ups, while evaluating the team’s 2007 Bridgestone tyres.

"We were expecting a few problems today because we were the only ones driving on the track,” explained Montagny. “We thought we would have some graining of the tyres but that was not the case. The car worked well and I am pleased because it has improved quite a lot since I drove last Wednesday. We did a couple of long runs today and they seemed to go well."

Hirate, who made his test debut for the team in Jerez last week, recorded a best time of 1m 21.214s after completing 82 laps. The Japanese driver, who will compete in GP2 next year, bettered his time from last week’s session by over two-tenths of a second.

"The whole day I didn't have any problems and the car was fun to drive,” said Hirate. “At the end I was a bit tired because it was very hard to keep performing at a high level. The conditions were different to last time so it is hard to compare but we found a good set-up for this tyre and for tomorrow I think the team can start from a good position. This is my second time testing with Toyota and I am feeling more comfortable within the team.”

Alongside the tyre work, both Toyota drivers also took part in some software evaluation and practiced several starts. The rest of the field, apart from Spyker, will arrive in Jerez on Wednesday to continue their 2007 season preparations.