Ryan Briscoe made an unexpected return to the cockpit of a Formula One car on the opening day of the Jerez group test, having been recalled to the Toyota fold to partner Ralf Schumacher in one of the new TF106 chassis.
Despite still recovering from the monstrous Indy Racing League shunt he suffered at Chicagoland Speedway in the summer, the Australian was drafted in as a late replacement for Olivier Panis, who was taken ill the day before the test. Underlining his rapid return to fitness, Briscoe - who had been due to join the SunTrust Racing Grand-Am team for testing at Homestead - reported no ill effects after nearly 80 laps of the Spanish circuit. He would have racked up a greater distance had it not been for another Toyota V8 engine failure.
"Apart from one day in an F3 car, this is my first time back in a race car since my IRL accident - but it feels great," the Australian revealed, "I only found out two days ago that I would be driving, so it was a bit of a surprise call even for me.
"I did about 80 laps today with no physical problems at all, so I'm really happy. It was good fun to be back behind the wheel of an F1 car again - there's nothing like it.
"I know everyone in Toyota's test team and they are good people to work with, so I felt really comfortable out there. I'm glad to be of help to the team and I've enjoyed getting the feel of the new car. It didn't take long to get back into the swing of things, as we did some work on tyre pressures and temperatures. We didn't quite finish the programme because of an engine failure at the end of the day, but we got most of it done and I'm happy with the first day of work."
Technical director Mike Gascoyne explained that Briscoe's engine 'had already done a lot of miles', and was not concerned by the failure.
Team-mate Schumacher put in a solid morning's work, but his day was curtailed after lunch when he reported some discomfort in his back. Jarno Trulli will due to travel to Jerez to test alongside Briscoe today [Thursday].