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Toro Rosso pack up early at Imola - updated 23 Feb 2006

Scott Speed (USA) Scuderia Toro Rosso STR1. Formula 1 Testing, Jerez, Spain, 7-10 February 2006. World ©  Patching/Sutton

Further heavy rain at the Imola circuit in Italy on Thursday morning prompted Scuderia Toro Rosso to end their test programme at lunchtime, bringing an early close to their final pre-season session.

Toro Rosso had planned to run two cars, but in light of the wet conditions, they cut that to one, with American Scott Speed at the wheel of the lone V10 STR1 machine.

“Looking at the bad conditions, we took the decision to continue with pit stop practice,” explained chief engineer, Laurent Mekies. “It was pretty much our only option and with around 20 pit stops completed, the crew have really sharpened their skills.”

Speed completed 34 laps with a best time of 1m 38.290s, though the team were keen to stress that none of his running was aimed at performance. Toro Rosso’ next appearance will be in practice for the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix.

BMW Sauber, meanwhile, chose to brave out the rain and continue work with Jacques Villeneuve and third driver Robert Kubica. Both men carried out long runs on extreme wet-weather tyres in the morning, before switching to work with intermediates in the afternoon. In addition, the team’s engineers did some fine tuning of the F1.06’s electronic systems.

Both BMW Sauber drivers are due to continue testing at Imola on Friday, although their exact programme will be determined by the weather conditions.

Unofficial Thursday times from Imola:
1. Jacques Villeneuve, BMW Sauber (Michelin), 1:30.866
2. Robert Kubica, BMW Sauber (Michelin), 1:31.939
3. Scott Speed, Toro Rosso (Michelin), 1:38.290