Pizzonia pipped by Manning on F3000 debut

British Formula 3 Champion Antonio Pizzonia was immediately on the pace in his first run in a Formula 3000 car during unofficial testing at Estoril this week

Pizzonia pipped by Manning on F3000 debut

Pizzonia had his first experience of an F3000 Lola on Tuesday driving for the Petrobras team and continued to underline his hot property status. The Brazilian has impressed throughout the year by dominating British F3 and during tests with the Benetton Formula 1 team - Tuesday was no different. The Brazilian set a time just 0.2s shy of quickest man Darren Manning.

"It was very good - I'm very pleased," said Pizzonia. "I really liked the team and the car was very different, but it was more than that. A lot of people say these cars are bad, but I quite enjoyed it."

Pizzonia outpaced experienced F3000 driver Mario Haberfeld, who was also testing for Petrobras, by more than half a second. 20-year-old Pizzonia did not drive on Wednesday, but will run again on the second day of the official F3000 test at Barcelona on Thursday next week. It is unsure which team the Brazilian will drive for.

Manning, driving for his regular Arden team, picked up from where he left off in Jerez a week ago by topping the times on both days of the test. The Yorkshireman set a time of 1m29.50s on Tuesday and went on to improve by 0.2s the following day. The team has strenuously denied rumours that the times were set using an Avon development tyre.

"It would be nice to do more miles," said Manning, "but with the excellent weather and track conditions it is proving to be very valuable testing for next season. It's always good to be fastest of course..."

Manning's closest opposition during Wednesday's running came from second-placed Haberfeld and Italian F3000 champion Ricardo Sperafico who was third. Viktor Maslov went fourth fastest in the second Arden car, closely followed by Tomas Mutsch for Super Nova.

Official testing begins next week at Barcelona where teams will not be limited by the constraints on engine mileage and official timing will be in place. All of the top teams will be taking part, with Haberfeld again in a Petrobras Lola and Gabriele Varano and French Formula 3 Champion Jonathan Cochet driving for sister team Super Nova.

Times from Tuesday 24/10/00

D Manning, Arden, 1m29.50s
A Pizzonia, Petrobras, 1m29.71s
M Haberfeld, Petrobras, 1m30.27s
T Mutsch, Super Nova, 1m30.27s

Times from Wednesday 25/10/00

D Manning, Arden, 1m29.30
M Haberfeld, Petrobras, 1m29.50s
R Sperafico, Petrobras, 1m29.60s
V Maslov, Arden, 1m30.50s
T Mutsch Super Nova 1m30.61s
J Keen Kid Jensen Racing 1m30.66s

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