Fernando Alonso set the pace for the second day in succession on a rain hit third day of Formula 1 testing at Monza.

With rain hitting the Italian circuit during the morning, the teams elected to remain in the garages until the track dried out which meant most of the drivers didn't elect to start their programmes until the afternoon.

With the circuit still damp, Alonso took the track shortly after lunch with the circuit still damp after the morning showers. With the track never fully drying, Alonso spent most of the day working on long-distance runs and also working on set-up - posting a best time of 1min 23.490secs to put him comfortably clear of second placed Robert Kubica. Alonso will be replaced by test driver Pedro de la Rosa tomorrow as McLaren extend their test into a fourth day.

Kubica, taking over from Nick Heidfeld at the wheel of the lone F1.07, also worked through a set-up programme and was little more than a second behind Alonso, with David Coulthard slotting into third for Red Bull. Coulthard, also completing his first laps of the week, continued with tyre evaluation work and carried out further aero testing to compare with the data collected by team-mate Mark Webber earlier in the week.

Felipe Massa was fourth for Ferrari, just a tenth behind Coulthard, while Tonio Liuzzi was an encouraging fifth for Toro Rosso, who took over at the wheel from team-mate Sebastien Vettel. The Italian completed tyre comparison work and assessment of the new aerodynamic package the team plans to introduce for the Italian Grand Prix.

Jenson Button was sixth for Honda ahead of Nico Rosberg for Williams - with the poor conditions meaning the team was unable to complete much of the work planned for the young German.

"After a very heavy downpour which lasted for about two and a half hours this morning, the weather cleared at lunchtime leaving blue skies and temperatures reaching 25?C," test team manager Dickie Stanford said. "During the limited window of running the weather afforded us, we continued with our set-up work prior to the race here with Nico in the car.

"Due to the poor weather conditions, we'll be staying another day with the majority of the other teams in order to finish our programme."

Eighth quickest was Giancarlo Fisichella for Renault, who was only able to complete an installation lap during the morning before the rain forced the cancellation of morning running.

In the afternoon, Fisichella utilised his circuit knowledge to work on the set-up of the car in the drying and dry conditions. Although unable to complete his entire programme, the data collected left Fisichella pleased with the day.

"Even though we did less running than planned, I am quite pleased with the day," he said. "It was an important test, just one week before my home race, and all the more so because this is a very unusual circuit in terms of the high speeds, and how we use the brakes. I ran in wet and dry conditions, and I think we made good progress ahead of next week's race."

Ralf Schumacher was ninth for Toyota as he worked on brakes and aerodynamic set-up with the German looking forward to a full day of running on Friday,

"The track was very green after all the morning rain, which certainly did not help," he said. "When the circuit dried out we had to prioritise some aerodynamic evaluation left over from yesterday, once the decision had been taken to extend the test.

"Tomorrow we will go back to concentrating more on mechanical set-up and hopefully have a fully productive day, weather permitting."

Sakon Yamamoto had his first taste of the Spyker B car in tenth place, just two tenths behind Schumacher, while Anthony Davidson was eleventh for Super Aguri.

Davidson completed aerodynamic work during the day alongside a comprehensive race start simulation programme, although his best lap was well off the pace.

Due to the rain, testing will conclude tomorrow.

Testing times (30 August) - Monza:

1. Fernando Alonso McLaren-Mercedes 1min 23.490secs 51 laps
2. Robert Kubica BMW Sauber 1min 24.413secs 48 laps
3. David Coulthard Red Bull-Renault 1min 24.453secs 52 laps
4. Felipe Massa Ferrari-Ferrari 1min 24.525secs 49 laps
5. Vitantonio Liuzzi Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1min 24.768secs 40 laps
6. Jenson Button Honda-Honda 1min 24.918secs 61 laps
7. Nico Rosberg Williams-Toyota 1min 24.983secs 45 laps
8. Giancarlo Fisichella Renault-Renault 1min 25.069secs 72 laps
9. Ralf Schumacher Toyota-Toyota 1min 26.175secs 44 laps
10. Sakon Yamamoto Spyker-Ferrari 1min 26.384secs 72 laps
11. Anthony DavidsonSuper Aguri-Honda 1min 35.106secs 47 laps

all times unofficial - courtesy Renault

Track/weather conditions: Wet during the morning, clearing after lunch: Track temperature, 33.9?C / Ambient temperature, 25.1?C

Comparative lap times:

Italian GP 2006:

Pole position: Kimi Raikkonen McLaren-Mercedes 1min 21.484secsFastest lap: Kimi Raikkonen McLaren-Mercedes 1min 22.559secs



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