Telefonica MoviStar Honda Jr Team rider Sebastian Porto is a near veteran, having raced in 109 grands prix, and yet he is still just 24 years old. 2003 is a crucial year for the Argentinean, who was selected for the ride by non other than Alberto Puig.

When Porto's Yamaha contract expired, Puig quickly moved to sign Porto for his new 250cc team.

Team coordinator Toni Calvo said of the decision: "It was not at all a difficult choice to make when we chose Sebastian to race for us. His results confirmed he was one of the most promising riders in GP racing. When he became a free agent at the end of 2002 we were happy to speak with him about riding for the team."

Team Manager Alberto Puig was more specific in his assessment of Porto's ability. "I think he has extremely high qualities, and you know me, I am not a man to say these things out of line! Porto has been a good rider for some time but has never had the best equipment. He has taken what he has been given, without complaint and raced it at 110%, he's a fine rider, and a fighter, I admire those qualities in a rider."

The Telefonica MoviStar Junior Team has a reputation for hard work in search of perfection, and team manager Puig is known as a hard, but fair taskmaster. The team has combined their skills and application with a controlled passion for racing that has brought them to the fore in just their third season in grand prix competition.

The 125cc-world championship leader, 17-years old Daniel Pedrosa, graduated from the Spanish Telefonica MoviStar Honda Junior Cup series, Puig's inspirational initiative to unearth young talent with the potential to compete at world level. Porto was happy to be invited to race for the successful Spanish team.

"It wasn't a difficult decision to make, I know Alberto well, and he was a real racer, we think the same about racing. He knows when he has to speak to me about the machine, or what I'm doing but he also knows when not to speak and that's just as important," said the Argentine.

Porto has now moved to Spain, from his former base in Italy, setting up his new home close to Sitges, just 30 kilometers from the Telefonica MoviStar race shop.

"Of course everyone in the team speaks Spanish, and that has helped me settle quickly during the pre-season testing and early races. The relationship inside the team is growing each time we take the bike out. I feel at home but I also like the life style down here, and the weather is just great!" Porto said.

When asked if he shared the same passion for the Spanish Grand Prix as the rest off his teammates, Porto smiled and gave a diplomatic answer in response.

"Jerez is a special race, not just for the teams and riders but also the fans. This year for me it will be a bit more special because I race for a Spanish team with Spanish sponsors. I'm really look forward to the race."

Over the three days of action at Jerez almost 200,000 fanatical race fans converge upon the town for the opening round of the European GP season. The majority staying close to the track, all intent upon making the acquaintance of their heroes. There are riders who shun the massive crowds eager to give them a clap on the back, few words of encouragement, or ask for an autograph. Porto is not among them.

"I enjoy the attention of the fans at Jerez, they bring so much to the race. The noise they make and the colours in the crowd give a very special atmosphere. On the warm up lap you can hear the noise and see the tribunes full of waving flags of all colours. It's really impressive. Of course once we start the race we hear nothing, until the run down lap."

Jerez is one of Porto's favourite venues to race at. "The track is quite difficult and very technical, bike set up is very important at Jerez. The front-end set up is vital, if it's not right you are in trouble. Sure I have favourite corners on the circuit, but you have to have a good rhythm at Jerez to do well. The first corner I like, it's good for passing. The corner before 'Sito Pons' is another favourite of mine, if you get a good run through there and 'Sito Pons' you are on a good lap. Those two and the big double right at the back of the circuit."

Porto, together with Roberto Rolfo, has been entrusted with the development of the RS250RW Honda, HRC's new quarter litre entry. After just two races on the machine Porto is beginning to get the feel of his new charge.

"I'm really impressed with the way the bike handles, the chassis and suspension have been good, and getting better all the time. We need more engine power, the engine improved between Suzuka and Welkom and I hope we can continue in this way. But we need to match the opposition in acceleration. Jerez require a good all-round performance from the machine and rider, we are getting closer to having a very good motorcycle."

Team coordinator Toni Calvo said. "Sebastian has the amazing ability to be completely relaxed one minute, then switch his mind so he is totally focused the next minute. His way of working suits the team well, he knows exactly what he needs to make the bike better and he can effectively communicate this to the mechanics."

Porto has the ability to succeed at the very highest level of grand prix racing. He has found a home in a team with the potential to score consistent podium finishes. The fast Argentine will not let the opportunity pass him by.