The BMW WilliamsF1 team continued their winter test form today [Tuesday] at Valencia, with 'third driver' Marc Gene topping the times, as testing kicked off at the Spanish venue with eight teams and twelfth drivers in action.

Gene completed 74 laps in total, his best a 1 minute 10.198 seconds, around two tenths up on Michael Schumacher, who was second to deny Williams a one-two. Juan Pablo Montoya thus had to make do with third in the second 2004 Williams-BMW FW26.

Sam Michael, chief operations engineer at Williams-F1, told the team's official website: "The first day of testing at Valencia has gone well. Both Juan Pablo and Marc were running the FW26s with Juan concentrating on mechanical set-up work in the morning followed by electronics testing in the afternoon. Marc ran a similar programme combined with tyre testing in the afternoon."

Following the launch of the new F2004 yesterday, Schumi was running in last year's car today, the F2003-GA, however it was still good enough to match the pace of the new Williams'. Michael spent the day with two F2003-GA's at his disposal, completing 111 laps, focusing on tyre testing, set-up work and electronics.

Former full-time Scuderia test driver Felipe Massa was fourth, running in the Sauber-Petronas C23-02, the Brazilian conducting set-up work in morning while focusing on Bridgestone tyre tests in the afternoon, along with some cooling checks.

Jacky Eeckelaert, chief race engineer at Sauber, added: "Today we have done the roll-out of the second chassis C23-02, which basically means that we are testing with a new car this week. Although it's been quite windy today which made it sometimes difficult to drive we completed our scheduled programme without any technical problems and the new chassis proved to be reliable."

Renault's Jarno Trulli completed the top five, with team-mate Franck Montagny seventh, making Olivier Panis, who was sixth, the meat in the regie sandwich.

Next up was BAR-Honda duo, Anthony Davidson and Takuma Sato, eighth and ninth, while the only other runners in action were Mark Webber, Ricardo Zonta and Gianmaria Bruni, tenth, eleventh and twelfth respectively. Bruni was running for Minardi, in what is their first test of 2004, the Italian two tenths off Zonta's Toyota.

Testing continues tomorrow [Wednesday].

Leading times (27 January) - Valencia:

1. Marc Gene Williams-BMW 1m 10.198s 74 laps M#
2. Michael Schumacher Ferrari-Ferrari 1m 10.408s 111 laps B
3. Juan Pablo Montoya Williams-BMW 1m 10.466s 82 laps M#
4. Felipe Massa Sauber-Petronas 1m 11.209s 98 laps B#
5. Jarno Trulli Renault-Renault 1m 11.375s 59 laps M#
6. Olivier Panis Toyota-Toyota 1m 11.770s 85 laps M#
7. Franck Montagny Renault-Renault 1m 11.778s 111 laps M
8. Anthony Davidson BAR-Honda 1m 12.094s 67 laps M#
9. Takuma Sato BAR-Honda 1m 12.193s 64 laps M#
10. Mark Webber Jaguar-Cosworth 1m 12.322s 52 laps M#
11. Ricardo Zonta Toyota-Toyota 1m 12.762s 97 laps M#
12. Gianmaria Bruni Minardi-Cosworth 1m 12.925s 75 laps B

M denotes Michelin tyres.
# denotes 2004 car .

Weather / track conditions: Dry and sunny with a few clouds in the afternoon - very windy.

All times unofficial.



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