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Irvine fastest at Monza test

WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP challenger Eddie Irvine ended last week's Monza test with the fastest lap of the three days in his Ferrari F399. Irvine completed 160 laps of the Autodromo in the course of his three days of running, a total of 575 miles. His best lap which was set late on the final day of testing was a 1m23.876s. Mika Salo did nearly 200 laps - 710 miles - while Michael Schumacher did just 25 laps before deciding not to continue. His 90 miles of running gave the Italian team a total testing mileage of 1,375 miles in three days. With teams pushing hard to develop, the mileages in the test were dramatic, aided by the fact that Monza is such a fast circuit.

Irvine's closest challenger turned out to be Johnny Herbert, who completed 465 miles of running and recorded his best time of 1m24.180s at the end of the second day. The team ran Rubens Barrichello on three days of the test and he did 500 miles of running although he did not go for a really fast time at the end of the test.

David Coulthard and Mika Hakkinen were both in action for McLaren with Coulthard doing all three days and Hakkinen running only on the first two. Coulthard was the faster, setting a 1m24.250s at the end of the final day after 232 laps of the track, while Hakkinen's best was a 1m24.39s at the end of the second day. The Finn completed 125 laps, giving McLaren a total of 1,280 miles of running.

The two Williams drivers were turning in competitive times throughout the test with Alessandro Zanardi ending up the faster of the two with a best lap of 1m24.403s after 162 laps. Ralf Schumacher completed only two days of running, completing 104 laps, before handing his car over Formula 3000 driver Bruno Junqueira. He completed 42 laps on the final day which meant that the team had covered over 1,100 miles of running. Junqueira is expected to be named Williams test driver next year.

Jordan was also in action with both Heinz-Harald Frentzen and Damon Hill doing two days of running. The pair completed 177 laps (635 miles) between them.

Prost Grand Prix has high hopes for Monza and both Olivier Panis and Jarno Trulli were in action on all three days, the pair completing a total of 820 miles of running.

Sauber also ran two cars on all three days of the test with Jean Alesi and Pedro Diniz developing the somewhat difficult chassis. They completed 115 and 130 laps respectively but failed to make much impression on the timesheets. It was a similar story for Benetton with Giancarlo Fisichella completing 110 laps and Alexander Wurz 130.

Minardi showed up for two days with Marc Gene doing the first and Luca Badoer the second. The pair completed 70 laps between them.

British American Racing was also in action but because of the need to rebuild the test chassis after the Belgian GP the team had to miss the first day of testing. In the end Ricardo Zonta did 20 laps and Jacques Villeneuve 16. Giving the team a total of 130 miles of running.

Arrows did not make the trip to Monza, but ran briefly at the Santa Pod dragstrip in England, with Tora Takagi driving.