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de la Rosa quickest at Jerez

NEWS STORY
29/04/2005

Bahrain GP hero, Pedro de la Rosa, set a blistering pace at Jerez on the second, and final day of testing.

The Spaniard's best time of 1:15.561, eclipsed the best time posted this year (Jenson Button - 1:15.680) and came the unofficial lap record posted by Miuchael Schumacher in September 2004 (1:15.614).

de la rosa's tremendous pace could possibly land him a race drive in next weekend's Spanish Grand Prix, should Juan Pablo Montoya not have fully recovered from his tennis accident.

The Spaniard was joined by yesterday's pace-setter, Kimi Raikkonen, who was second quickest, albeit almost a second off the pace.

"Our main focus for the past two days has been preparations and evaluations for the Spanish Grand Prix," said Pedro. "We have done a lot of work considering we were only running two days when I did almost 1200 km and experienced no major problem."

"We have been testing a number of developments in respect of aerodynamics and set-ups," added Raikkonen, "it will be interesting to see how they work in a race weekend situation."

World Championship leader Fernando Alonso was third quickest, 0.931s off the pace, while teammate Franck Montagny suffered an engine failure of the first order, his power-plant - the B-spec unit due to be used next weekend - blowing up as he left the pits, sending flames shooting into the air.

"Overall, the team has done a fantastic job in the past two days," said Christian Silk, "the late change of venue put a lot of pressure on the test team to perform, and as they have done all winter, they responded brilliantly, completing 1800 km over just days of testing.

"Several incidents today meant that we were unable to complete as many miles as we would have liked," he admitted, "but we nevertheless got positive results on a large range of our test items. Most importantly, both drivers were impressed by the performance of the B spec engine, which Giancarlo and Fernando will be using in Barcelona."

Fourth quickest was Red Bull's David Coulthard, a significant improvement on Thursday's time, and only 0.5s off Alonso's pace. The Scot worked on various aerodynamic solutions, whilst teammate Tonio Liuzzi focussed on set-ups and tyre evaluation.

Toyota had Olivier Panis and Ralf Schumacher on duty, both drivers posting similar times and finishing fifth and sixth.

"I was initially concentrating on shorter, low-fuel qualifying runs," said the German. "My qualifying runs with heavy fuel have been fine but I feel I can improve my low-fuel runs. It is quite a delicate balance to make the car work to its maximum at the beginning and the end of the lap and the more knowledge you gain about it, the better your potential.

"We had a couple of technical issues," he added, "but we still got through some important work for Barcelona and we should be okay. Unfortunately I had to cut short my low-fuel runs because I had some longer stints to do for tyre evaluation. So that part of the programme wasn't totally conclusive and I will have to wait until the next test at Paul Ricard to learn more."

"I was concentrating on preliminary work on the tyre choice for Silverstone as well as doing some shock absorber evaluation," added Panis. "I also tried some new front and rear wings and did some general set-up work."

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