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Schumi fastest in final practice
Alan Baldwin | April 22, 2006 20:31 IST
Ferrari's Michael Schumacher fired up the home fans with the fastest lap of the weekend so far in Saturday's final practice for the San Marino Grand Prix.
The seven times world champion, chasing his first win since last June, lapped Ferrari's home circuit in one minute 23.787 seconds.
Renault's world champion and overall leader Fernando Alonso, who beat the German in a nose-to-tail thriller at Imola last year, was second fastest with the weekend shaping up as another Ferrari-Renault duel.
The session reversed the order from Friday's second practice, when Alonso led Schumacher after the 37-year-old had set the pace in the morning. Alonso was 0.281 seconds slower than Schumacher on a bright and sunny Saturday morning.
Renault's Italian Giancarlo Fisichella was third on the timesheets, ahead of Schumacher's young Brazilian team mate Felipe Massa.
McLaren's Kimi Raikkonen, runner-up to Alonso in the championship last year, was best of the rest with the fifth quickest lap ahead of Toyota's Ralf Schumacher.
Germany's Nico Rosberg, impressive so far in his rookie season with Williams, hit the wall at turn six and damaged the front wing.
Alonso, 24, is a comfortable 14 points clear of Fisichella and Raikkonen in the championship and will be chasing his third win in four races on Sunday and Renault's fifth in a row.
Schumacher, who crashed at the last race in Melbourne, has won six times at Imola but has not triumphed since last year's six-car U.S. Grand Prix fiasco.
Ferrari have struggled in two of the season's three races and need to rein in Renault in the first race of the season in Europe.
Schumacher, aiming for a record 66th pole later in the afternoon to eclipse the mark he shares with late Brazilian champion Ayrton Senna, is fourth in the championship and 17 points adrift of Alonso.
Formula One: The Complete Coverage