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BAR's Panis tops times at Jerez

BRITISH AMERICAN RACING's new recruit Olivier Panis set a flying lap early on Thursday to clock the fastest time in testing at a rain-drenched Jerez.

The Frenchman recorded the quickest time of one minute and 23.54 seconds before the heavens opened, to outpace the consistently quick Rubens Barrichello and David Coulthard.

Panis' pace is particularly impressive, as it is only his third time out in the Honda-powered car after joining the Brackley-based team from McLaren earlier this year.

Nick Heidfeld was next on the time sheets for Sauber while Kimi Raikkonen, who was also granted a super licence on Thursday by the FIA World Council and confirmed as the Swiss team's second driver for the 2001 season, continued his impressive form finishing sixth behind Jarno Trulli in the Jordan.

Japan's Takuma Sato made his Formula One testing debut with Jordan, but a spin on a damp track with dry weather tires put a temporary halt to his ascent of the learning curve.

South African Tomas Scheckter once again had to watch from the pit wall after failing to get a run-out in the Jaguar with Eddie Irvine and Luciano Burti

BMW-Williams's Juan Pablo Montoya, however, failed to get to grips with the conditions after Wednesday's impressive form in which he finished second fastest, clocking only the 15th quickest time and completing just 18 laps in the driving rain and the gusty winds, which ended testing one hour early.

Three red flags interrupted the morning's running, including stoppages on the circuit for Montoya and McLaren tester Alex Wurz.

Times from Thursday's testing at Jerez:

POS DRIVER ENTRANT TIME
Olivier Panis BAR 1:23.54
Rubens Barrichello Ferrari 1:23.58
David Coulthard McLaren 1:23.69
Nick Heidfeld Sauber 1:24.02
Kimi Raikkonen Sauber 1:24.02
Alex Wurz McLaren 1:24.18
Ralf Schumacher Williams F1 1:25.55
Darren Manning BAR 1:25.08
Jenson Button Benetton 1:25.18
10  Pedro de la Rosa Arrows 1:25.45
11  Luciano Burti Jaguar 1:25.95
12  Takuma Sato Jordan 1:26.23
13  Eddie Irvine Jaguar 1:26.41
14  Juan Pablo Montoya Williams F1 1:26.84
15  Marc Gene Williams F1 1:28.30

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