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BAR's start of the season according to plan

Lucky Strike BAR Honda's 2005 season got underway in Melbourne today with the first free practice sessions of this weekend's curtain-raising Australian Grand Prix. After seven intensive weeks and 28,000 kilometres of pre-season testing, the BAR Honda 007 finally made its race weekend debut at the Albert Park circuit.

Race drivers Jenson Button and Takuma Sato were at the wheel of Championship car numbers 3 and 4, whilst third driver Anthony Davidson, frequently the star of Friday Free Practice last season, supported the engineering team's performance analysis from outside of the cockpit as the team's second place success in the 2004 Championship precludes the use of the third car.

As is typically the case with day one on Melbourne's park roads, the morning's limited running was determined by the dirty track conditions. Once the circuit had cleaned up, the team were able to focus on conducting back to back tyre comparisons and general set-up work, adapting the 007 to the Albert Park track characteristics.

At the end of this afternoon's second session, the team were encouraged by a generally positive and trouble-free start to the weekend.

Jenson Button commented: "It's great to be back on the racetrack again. It's still difficult to know where we are in respect to the other teams but I think our sessions went to plan and everything seemed to run smoothly. We know which direction we want to go in tomorrow, so generally I'm pleased with the start we've made here today."

Takuma Sato said: "I had a difficult start today. I didn't have good grip and there was a small issue with the brakes in the first session. I was happier with the balance when this was fixed for the second session. I think that we can continue our improvements tomorrow but there is still a lot of work to do."

Geoffrey Willis, BAR's technical director said: "It was interesting to have our first day of practice under the new tyre regulations. With only one type of each tyre available today proper tyre evaluation is the main task. As expected all teams ran fewer laps than we used to see on a Friday, so the circuit took a long time to clean up and improve. The whole day has gone very much to plan and we now have all the information we need to make our tyre choice for tomorrow. We are quite happy with our performance level and will continue to work on car set-up in the morning."
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