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Motor racing-Alonso ahead of Schumacher at Euro GP

By Staff
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NUERBURGRING, Germany, May 5 (Reuters) Renault's world champion Fernando Alonso gave Michael Schumacher a reality check on the first day of practice for the German's home European Grand Prix.

Alexander Wurz was fastest in both today's sessions for Williams, but the Austrian test driver will not race on Sunday.

In the morning, Schumacher led those who will line up on the Formula One starting grid although Alonso, leading the seven times champion by 15 points after four races, did not set a time in that opening one-hour stint.

When the 24-year-old Spaniard did get down to business in the afternoon, he pushed Schumacher back to third place.

Wurz lapped with a best time of one minute 32.079 seconds in the morning and 1:32.675 in the afternoon. Alonso was 0.904 seconds slower with Schumacher 0.944 off the pace.

The German, winner at Imola two weeks ago for his first victory in 13 races, is seeking to prove his once-dominant team are genuine championship contenders again after a year of struggle.

Despite the 37-year-old's form at the nearest circuit to his boyhood home in Kerpen, there are question marks about just how competitive his Bridgestone-shod Ferrari will prove against Michelin runners Renault and McLaren.

Alonso, who is joining McLaren next year, has said that he considers that team -- with Kimi Raikkonen and Juan Pablo Montoya -- providing the main threat to Renault.

Raikkonen, haunted by three retirements in a row at the Nuerburgring, was eighth fastest in the morning and only 13th in the afternoon.

France's Franck Montagny returned to the Formula One track on his debut for Super Aguri after replacing hapless Japanese rookie Yuji Ide as a race driver.

The former Renault test driver, who will become the first Frenchman on the starting grid since Olivier Panis retired at the end of 2004, performed creditably against his Japanese team mate Takuma Sato but was still slowest.

REUTERS PG KN1925

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