BMW WilliamsF1 driver Juan Pablo Montoya set the pace today [Tuesday] at the Valencia circuit, Spain.

JPM completed 52 laps and posted a best time of 1 minute 13.346 seconds - around two tenths up on the next fastest driver, McLaren's Kimi Raikkonen.

Nick Heidfeld meanwhile was third for Sauber-Petronas. The German notched up 48 laps and was over a second and a half slower than the Williams of Montoya, his purpose today along with the Sauber team was to conduct a detailed gearbox test to gather data for the forthcoming C22, which will be unveiled on the 9 February next year.

"I have enjoyed my break since Suzuka, but it felt great to be back in a racing car again," said Heidfeld. "Valencia is an interesting track to drive on, and we had a productive day."

McLaren's third driver Alexander Wurz was next up, fourth overall, followed by the Renault of Jarno Trulli. The Italian was shaking down a new mechanical package destined for the R23, including a new engine and gearbox mated to the aerodynamic package of the 2002 car.

"We are quite satisfied with this first day of testing with the interim car," noted Technical Director Mike Gascoyne. "We didn't experience any mechanical problems and we were able to complete our programme, which was very positive. Tomorrow, we will continue with engine and systems evaluation, as well as some tyre work with Michelin."

Giorgio Pantano, who finished runner up in the FIA International Formula 3000 Championship this year with Coloni was sixth. The Italian - who was driving a Williams-BMW and who has tested with McLaren and Benetton in the past - was four tenths up on regular WilliamsF1 test driver, Marc Gene. He notched up 69 laps, the most of any one runner.

The final two places fell to the two Minardi's. Frenchman Franck Montagny, winner of the 2001 Nissan championship coming in eighth, while official KL test driver, Russian Sergei Zlobin was ninth - and last. Both ran with a European V10 engine, based on the Cosworth VJ and VJM units developed and uprated by the European Engine Division at Ledbury.

Testing continues tomorrow [Wednesday].

Leading times (26 Nov) - Valencia:

1. Juan Pablo Montoya Williams-BMW 1m 13.346s 52 laps**
2. Kimi Raikkonen McLaren-Mercedes 1m 13.574s 57 laps**
3. Nick Heidfeld Sauber-Petronas 1m 15.017s 48 laps*
4. Alex Wurz McLaren-Mercedes 1m 15.097s 15 laps**
5. Jarno Trulli Renault 1m 15.376s 36 laps**
6. Giorgio Pantano Williams-BMW 1m 15.531s 69 laps**
7. Marc Gene Williams-BMW 1m 15.958s 12 laps**
8. Franck Montagny Minardi-European 1m 17.031s 28 laps**
9. Sergei Zlobin Minardi-European 1m 17.302s 29 laps**

* Bridgestone tyres
** Michelin tyres

Weather / Track Conditions: Sunny.



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