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Villeneuve the master of the wet in Monza testing

BRITISH AMERICAN RACING's Jacques Villeneuve topped the times in a rain-hit shortened day three of testing at Monza, Italy on Thursday.

The Canadian posted the quickest lap time of the day - one minute and 26.296 seconds - and was almost half-a-second faster than the McLaren of David Coulthard.

The wet conditions forced the 18 drivers to abandon their afternoon sessions leaving Villeneuve's quick morning time, set in the dry, as the best of the day.

Coulthard went narrowly quicker than Jordan's Heinz-Harald Frentzen, with world championship leader Mika Hakkinen fourth fastest. Brazilian Ricardo Zonta, aiming to prove that he still has a future in Formula One, posted the fifth best lap time in his British American Racing car.

Ferrari duo Michael Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello were sixth and seventh respectively in the day's times with Arrows' Pedro de la Rosa eighth. The Spaniard carried out suspension work on the Leafield-based team's test car.

Minardi's Marc Gene was ninth ahead of Sauber's Mika Salo, BMW-Williams' Ralf Schumacher and Salo's team-mate Pedro Diniz, who was disappointed to lose track time due to the adverse conditions.

"It's been a frustrating day," Diniz said. "I was able to do some back-to-back tire testing but the wet track did not make it easy. It was a case of gathering data."

Jordan's Jarno Trulli, working on the set-up of his EJ10, was 13th fastest with a lap time of one minute and 28.001. Trulli finished quicker than Jean Alesi's Prost, Benetton's Alexander Wurz and Jaguar's Eddie Irvine, who had taken over from Johnny Herbert.

Argentine Gaston Mazzacane damaged his left front and rear suspension when he went off the track at Ascari, the same corner Benetton's Giancarlo Fisichella crashed out on in Wednesday's testing, but finished ahead of BMW-Williams' Jenson Button.

Thursday's times from testing at Monza, Italy:

POS DRIVER ENTRANT TIME
Jacques Villeneuve BAR 1:26.296
David Coulthard McLaren 1:26.905
Heinz-Harald Frentzen Jordan 1:26.992
Mika Hakkinen McLaren 1:27.172
Ricardo Zonta BAR 1:27.318
Michael Schumacher Ferrari 1:27.411
Rubens Barrichello Ferrari 1:27.560
Pedro de la Rosa Arrows 1:27.598
Marc Gene Minardi 1:27.628
10  Mika Salo Sauber 1:27.722
11  Ralf Schumacher BMW-Williams 1:27.800
12  Pedro Diniz Sauber 1:27.935
13  Jarno Trulli Jordan 1:28.001
14  Jean Alesi Prost 1:28.277
15  Alexander Wurz Benetton 1:28.303
16  Eddie Irvine Jaguar 1:29.259
17  Gaston Mazzacane Minardi 1:29.364
18  Jenson Button BMW-Williams 1:31.806

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