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Hill fastest in Imola testing

WHILE Ferrari's Nicola Larini was busy testing the new V10 engine at Fiorano, down the road at the Autodromo Ferrari at Imola, Benetton and Williams were both in action for three days with Damon Hill emerging comfortably fastest in his Williams-Renault FW17B.

Hill did only the first two days of the test before flying to his home in Ireland for a weekend off. His best lap time was a 1m27.56s.

Rothmans Williams Renault's new signing for 1996, French-Canadian Jacques Villeneuve, joined Hill on the second day of the test and stayed on after Damon had departed. He raced at Imola in his Italian F3 days in the late 1980s but the track has been changed considerably since Ayrton Senna's fatal crash in May 1994 and so Villeneuve was getting to know the new circuit. He had a couple of spins on Thursday and an engine blow-up on Friday, but set a best lap of 1m27.91s.

Michael Schumacher tested on all three days, running revised suspension geometry's and an electronic transmission system, but crashed heavily at the Variante Alta chicane on the final day of the test. His best lap was a disappointing 1m28.03s.

The Forti team also appeared at Imola to test its new semi-automatic gearbox, but Roberto Moreno was unable to complete any laps as the unit seized before the testing could begin.

Over in England there was also testing at Silverstone where Rubens Barrichello ran a mid-ship wing on his Jordan-Peugeot in preparation for the Pacific Grand Prix at Aida in 10 days time.

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