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Both Honda-powered teams have completed their penultimate pre-season test sessions and are now back in the UK preparing for their final test prior to the start of the 2002 FIA Formula One World Championship in Australia on 3 March. Lucky Strike B.A.R Honda completed a five-day test in Valencia last week while Jordan Honda returned from an encouraging three-day test in Barcelona on Wednesday.

Jacques Villeneuve and Olivier Panis were on track in the new BAR 004s for the entirety of the Valencia test and were joined by test drivers Anthony Davidson and Ryo Fukuda for the final two days (Saturday and Sunday). Frustrated by a lack of running time over the first three days of the test, mainly due to numerous red flags, they used the final two days to concentrate on set-up and aero work in preparation for the Australian Grand Prix.

The team benefited from quieter track conditions over the weekend and Villeneuve set the fastest time on Saturday morning of 1:12.9s. The Canadian said: "The car worked well this test and was fun to drive. I wasn't able to get as much running in as I would have liked because of the red flags, but we completed some useful development work over the weekend in preparation for the start of the season."

On the final day (Sunday) of the test Panis recorded a best lap and third fastest time of the day of 1:12.7s. Panis said: "We had a frustrating time for the early part of the test and we didn't get as much track time as we wanted due to red flags, but the last two days (Saturday and Sunday) were more productive and we were able to focus on set-up and aero work in preparation for the Australian Grand Prix."

Davidson had his first run in the 2002-spec car, setting a personal best time at the Valencia circuit of 1:14.3s after just five laps. Fukuda, who was at the wheel of a B.A.R Honda 003 at his second test with the team, continued to familiarise himself with the car and recorded a fastest lap of 1:14.1s on Sunday, the fifth quickest time of the day.

Meanwhile Jordan Honda completed a three-day test on Wednesday in mostly warm, dry and sunny conditions at the Circuit de Catalunya in Barcelona. Takuma Sato took to the track in his Jordan Honda EJ12 and worked on engine mapping and aerodynamic development. On the final day (Wednesday) of the test Sato carried out race simulation work, tyre testing and general set-up development, recording a best lap and third fastest time of the day of 1:18.9s.

Sato said: "It's been a good test, especially today (Wednesday). A problem stopped me from finishing the full race distance, which I really wanted to do. The new car is improving all the time, though, and everyone is working very hard, so at the Silverstone test next week we should have ironed out the problems and I will be able to complete a race distance then."

Fisichella joined the team on the second day (Tuesday) of the test and focused on aerodynamic development and general set-up work in his Jordan Honda EJ12. On the final day (Wednesday) of the test the Italian set a best lap and fifth fastest time of the day of 1:20.4s.

2001 German Formula Renault Champion Marcel Lasee joined the team for the start of the test on Monday and had his first drive in the Jordan Honda EJ12. Lasee devoted his efforts to general set-up, aerodynamic work, brake testing and tyre testing. The young German was invited to join the test at short notice while Giancarlo Fisichella spent an extra day resting, following an accident during testing at Valencia last week, when he bruised his knee.

Fisichella is feeling very confident after the test, and said: "We had a couple of problems this week, but overall it's been productive, particularly the last day. It was good to do a race distance. I'm looking forward to the season with confidence in the new engine and the car seems to be getting better each day."

Shuhei Nakamoto, the Race and Test Team Manager for Honda Racing Development added: "It's been a difficult week as we've suffered a number of engine problems. However, we know what has caused the problems, and we will fix them for the tests next week at Silverstone and Paul Ricard. It's hard at the time when problems happen, but it's better that they happen now rather than in the races ! We're looking forward to next week's tests when we'll be running the Melbourne spec engine. "

Both Honda-powered teams are now preparing for their final pre-season test before the Australian Grand Prix. Villeneuve and Panis will head up B.A.R Honda's four-day test at the Circuit Paul Ricard in France, starting on 18 February. On the same day Jordan Honda will begin a four-day test session at Silverstone with Fisichella and Sato.
 
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