Red Bull Juniors continue to dominate

The Red Bull Junior Team heads into the New Year as the team to beat after dominating the final day of this year's official Formula 3000 test at Estoril on Thursday

Red Bull Juniors continue to dominate

After topping the time-sheets at Barcelona last week, Sauber test driver Enrique Bernoldi has been untouchable on both days of testing at the Portuguese track.

German Formula 3 ace Patrick Freisacher joined Bernoldi at the sharp end, netting third place with a time 0.110s shy of second-placed Tomas Enge. Freisacher, who won two German F3 races this year with Bertram Schafer Racing, has signed to drive for the Red Bull Junior F3000 outfit next year.

"To win races would depend on what happens to the experienced guys," said Red Bull team boss Helmut Marko, "but Freisacher should score points, maybe even podiums. He was quicker than David Saelens in Barcelona, so we have high hopes."

Formula Nissan champion Antonio Garcia also impressed by setting the 11th fastest time in only his second run in an F3000 car. The Spaniard propped up the bottom of the time sheets in Barcelona, but was just shy of a top ten spot after taking over Bernoldi's car on Wednesday morning. He will test for the Minardi Formula 1 team as part of the prize for taking the Formula Nissan title.

Darren Manning continued his good run of form with the Arden team and, despite suffering gear selection problems, the Yorkshireman set the fourth fastest time, closely followed by fellow Brit Justin Wilson. The 1998 Formula Palmer Audi champ has re-signed for the Nordic team for next year and will be partnered by erstwhile McLaren Junior driver Enge.

Buddy Rice, who had his first run in an F3000 car with Super Nova, made a slow start in order to adjust to the lower downforce Lola. Rice found the car "a bit loose at the back end" compared to the Swift which took him to the Toyota Atlantic title. The 24-year-old finished the day 19th fastest.

"There's a bit of a power difference to the cars that I have been driving in the States," said Rice. "We had a brake problem in the morning so I did not use any new tyres in the morning session, but once that was sorted out the car felt much better."

Save for a selection of last year's drivers and one or two hot properties, the majority of hopefuls must now wait while the 2001 driver market falls into place. Signings for next year will gather pace once the major teams, such as Super Nova and Petrobras Jr, confirm their line-ups.

"The drivers will be waiting anxiously in the next few days, along with many others, while Super Nova Racing decides on its dream team for 2001," said its team boss David Sears.

E Bernoldi Red Bull Junior 1m29.092s
T Enge Nordic 1m29.173s
P Freisacher Red Bull Junior 1m29.283s
D Manning Arden 1m29.322s
J Wilson Nordic 1m29.377s
S Bourdais Gauloises Formula 1m29.463s
M Goosens KTR 1m29.614s
C Albers European Arrows 1m29.670s
B Leinders Super Nova 1ms30.267
G Bruni Coloni 1m30.066s
A Garcia Red Bull Junior 1m30.142s
K Kolby DAMS 1m30.213s
J C Ravier Petrobras Jr 1m30.269s
J Van Hooydonk Coloni 1m30.321s
G Varano Gauloises Formula 1m30.357s
A Lotterer Astromega 1m30.365s
S Mucke Coloni 1m30.462s
V Maslov Arden 1m30.504s
B Rice Super Nova 1m30.733s
J Cochet Kid Jensen Racing 1m30.803s
W Hughes Arden 1m30.888s
G Burlotti Coloni 1m30.913s
D Faulkner Kid Jensen Racing 1m30.969s
J Keen Astromega 1m31.092s
B Jouanny DAMS 1m31.419s
A Piedade Petrobras Jr 1m31.577s
G Giandomenico Fortec 1m31.722s
A Scheld Fortec 1m32.617s
N Filliberti Astromega 1m32.816s

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