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Coulthard sets fastest time in Jerez test

DAVID COULTHARD ended an impressive day of testing in Jerez, Spain on Tuesday as he took advantage of an empty track to set the fastest time in his McLaren.

The Briton clocked one minute, 22.38 seconds and completed 75 laps as he finished 0.99 seconds quicker than Frenchman Olivier Panis, who was second fastest for British American Racing after his move from McLaren.

"We tested mostly the tires and a lowly downforce to prepare for next year's likely regulations," Coulthard said.

Ferrari driver Rubens Barrichello suffered two early spins as the Brazilian tested aerodynamic settings but finished the day third fastest, more than 1.4 seconds adrift of Coulthard.

Nine of the 11 teams which will begin the 2001 season in Australia on March 4 were present as tire suppliers Bridgestone and Michelin went head-to-head for the first time.

Finn Kimi Raikkonen, still unsure whether he will be allowed to compete in Formula One without a FIA superlicence, was an impressive seventh quickest as he completed his first 48 laps for the Sauber team.

Briton Jenson Button was ninth quickest after his switch to Benetton, while his replacement at Williams, Juan Pablo Montoya of Colombia, looked comfortable in his new surroundings and was 11th quickest after completing 72 laps.

Italian Giancarlo Fisichella's Benetton sported a new exhaust system while Renault, preparing for their reintroduction in 2002, tested their radical 111-degree engine. Testing continues at the Spanish track on Wednesday and Thursday.

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