McLaren again established itself as the team to beat in Valencia, as Kimi Raikkonen and David Coulthard set the pace on the third day of testing at the Circuit Ricardo Tormo.

Coulthard replaced regular tester Alex Wurz in the second McLaren, but his lack of activity showed as he trailed Raikkonen, the pacesetter on day one, by over a second. The Finn, moving into his second season with the Woking team, racked up 114 laps as he clocked a 1min 10.664secs best around the tortuous track - taking 1.7secs off his previous best time from Wednesday.

Coulthard completed around half the distance his young team-mate covered, but ended the day four-tenths clear of Juan Montoya in the leading Williams-BMW. The Colombian, sharing the Williams garage with two other drivers, covered the greatest distance of all - 137 laps - as he worked through a programme of tyre development for Michelin and engine evaluation on the latest BMW V10.

Montoya was joined on track by regular Williams tester Marc Gene, who finished the session fourth overall as he worked on the new P83 powerplant, and Vitantonio Liuzzi, who enjoyed a second day's work with the Grove team. Gene clocked 1min 13.510secs to head off the sole Sauber of Nick Heidfeld, while Liuzzi, in only his second outing in an F1 car, was just half a second shy of the Spaniard, in sixth spot.

Heidfeld put the problems of day two behind him to clock up 83 laps in the only Sauber present at the test. Just two-tenths short of equalling Gene's mark, the German worked on both aerodynamics and tyres to gather essential data for finalising the design of next year's C22.

Jarno Trulli brought up the rear for Renault, completing 55 laps for a best time of 1min 14.173secs, a tenth off Liuzzi.

More to follow...

Leading performances (28 November):

Kimi R?ikk?nen McLaren-Mercedes 1min 10.664secs 114 lapsDavid Coulthard McLaren-Mercedes 1min 11.833secs 65 lapsJuan Montoya Williams-BMW 1min 12.139secs 137 lapsMarc Gene Williams-BMW 1min 13.510secs 45 lapsNick Heidfeld Sauber-Petronas 1min 13.725secs 83 laps*Vitantonio Liuzzi Williams-BMW 1min 14.026secs 71 lapsJarno Trulli Renault-Renault 1min 14.173secs 55 laps

[* denotes Bridgestone tyres; all others on Michelins]



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