Montoya Stays on Top at Jerez

Colombian driver Juan Pablo Montoya continued setting the pace in this week's test at the Jerez circuit, in southern Spain

The McLaren driver, quickest on the first day of work on Wednesday, went almost a whole second fastest than yesterday as his team continued to focus mainly on testing Michelin tyres for the upcoming French Grand Prix at Magny Cours.

Montoya worked alongside teammate Alexander Wurz, but the Austrian completed only seven laps in the morning after complaining of neck pains from an old injury. After that he decided to stop working so Montoya was the only McLaren driver on track in the afternoon.

Wurz visited the track's medical centre before flying back to Austria and  he will be replaced by Pedro de la Rosa tomorrow.

BAR-Honda drivers Jenson Button and Takuma Sato were the busiest men today, continuing with the evaluation of a some aerodynamic revisions incorporated in the 007 chassis. 

Button and Sato coverered over 220 laps to finish behind Montoya.

Test driver Franck Montagny was fourth quickest in the leading Renault, the Frenchman joined by Heikki Kovalainen.

The Finn, who suffered a massive engine blow-up during the session, took over from Championship leader Fernando Alonso, who will be back in action tomorrow to conclude Renault's programme after skipping today's session to complete promotional duties.

The Toyota team continued with their preparations for the French Grand Prix, working with both test driver Ricardo Zonta and Olivier Panis. The Brazilian focused on tyre testing for Michelin while Panis, who only drove in the morning, concentrated mainly on set-up work.

The Williams team joined the Jerez test today as they began the evaluation of a new aerodynamic package that will be used at the French Grand Prix.

German Nick Heidfeld was the man in charge of working with the modified package but suffered some heating problems in the car's manifold and only covered 28 laps to finish at the bottom of the times.

Test driver Antonio Pizzonia was also in action for Williams, but the Brazilian did not enjoy a very productive day either after crashing out early in the morning.
Pizzonia forced the session to be red-flagged, like Red Bull's Christian Klien did about an hour later when his car caught fire on track. The Austrian jumped out of the Red Bull machine quickly before the marshals extinguished it.

Canadian Jacques Villeneuve was again the only Sauber driver at Jerez, evaluating some new aerodynamic configurations and packages and also doing set-up work. Tomorrow, teammate Felipe Massa will take over.

"In the morning we evaluated new aerodynamic configurations and packages, and then continued with some set-up work," said Sauber's test engineer Paul Russell.

"Later we did long-runs to further assess Michelin tyres for the race in Magny-Cours. We achieved what we planned for today and seem to have good results."

Today's times:

Pos  Driver        Team-Engine         Tyres  Time     Laps
 1.  Montoya       McLaren-Mercedes     (M)  1:17.405   56
 2.  Button        BAR-Honda            (M)  1:17.580  113
 3.  Sato          BAR-Honda            (M)  1:17.764  119
 4.  Montagny      Renault              (M)  1:17.824   79
 5.  Zonta         Toyota               (M)  1:17.962  106
 6.  Kovalainen    Renault              (M)  1:18.136   67
 7.  Panis         Toyota               (M)  1:18.530   40
 8.  Klien         Red Bull Racing      (M)  1:18.823   69
 9.  Pizzonia      Williams-BMW         (M)  1:18.969   62
10.  Wurz          McLaren-Mercedes     (M)  1:19.237    7
11.  Coulthard     Red Bull Racing      (M)  1:19.439   62
12.  Villeneuve    Sauber               (M)  1:19.611  108
13.  Heidfeld      Williams-BMW         (M)  1:19.990   28
All Timing Unofficial

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