After the embarrassment of Africa, Sete Gibernau and Max Biaggi reassured Honda that there isn't much wrong with the 2004 spec RC211V by dominating a wet Spanish Grand Prix at Jerez today.

Welkom winner Valentino Rossi may have been on pole, but race day rain would highlight his Yamaha's shortcomings in low traction conditions, allowing the top two to ride into the distance, while Alex Barros later made it an all Honda podium.

Gibernau and Biaggi were locked together from the first lap, with the Italian shadowing the Telefonica Honda for every inch of the 4.4km circuit before briefly taking the lead on lap 17 of 27.

The Roman then ran wide, allowing his rival back ahead, and Sete would finally put some significant distance between himself and Biaggi with five laps to go, eventually working a 1.5secs lead to a 5.453 second advantage at the flag as Biaggi backed off.

For Gibernau, the home victory was a perfect way to banish the nightmare of one year ago, when he crashed out, a mistake that would haunt him for the rest of the season.

"Winning here is just the best," beamed the emotional Catalan. "It was one of the toughest races of my life because it was here at Jerez and I crashed last year. I wanted to give something back to the fans who have always shown their support for me. I know that they suffered a lot because of the weather so this win is for them."

Nevertheless, having played down his chances before the race, Sete continued to cast doubt on whether he is ready to win in 'normal' circumstances, even after taking victory.

"It's a special day to win the Spanish Grand Prix and lead the world championship for the very first time but both myself and the team are not fooled by the result," he admitted. "If it had been dry it could have been a very different race, but I'm not complaining.

"The set-up of the bike is still not where it needs to be - we are struggling to understand all the data but I am confident that this will improve. I have to keep calm and find the solution to these problems, which will hopefully emerge in the tests we have planned here for Monday and Tuesday," he concluded.

Biaggi's second place gave him his 100th podium and if he felt any disappointment about giving everything he had only to be beaten in the closing stages for the second race in succession, he was hiding it well.

"We're at the second race of the year, and since 1998 I've never been as well placed in the standings," he began. "It's a statistic which just shows the determination with which we've begun this season.

"During the race I was always close to Sete, but two laps from the end I had a dangerous slide and lost some ground, so I decided to settle for second. Congratulations to Sete, a great race."

Barros finished a full 52-seconds behind the winner, but the Brazilian was a happy man to return to the podium for the first time since Le Mans 2003.

"It seems a long time since I've been on a podium," said the Repsol Honda rider. "The winter was difficult and now I'm healthy again. I knew I couldn't ride at Sete and Max's pace so I just rode my own race. When I saw Marco (Melandri) crashed I tried to keep things safe and take the podium. I look forward to being even more competitive as I get stronger through the season."

Rossi would finish top non-Honda in fourth and although he's now slipped slightly behind both Gibernau and Biaggi in the championship, it could be argued that if he'd been closer to the front today it would have actually helped their chances of receiving full factory support...