2004 world champion Valentino Rossi set the pace during MotoGP testing today at Valencia, which also saw the Italian's new team-mate Colin Edwards make his YZR-M1 debut.

Rossi, along with test rider Wataru Yoshikawa, spent much of the day testing the first prototype of the latest-spec 2005 YZR-M1 machine (top picture).

The #46 set the pace with a 1min 33.45secs best, which beat the fastest lap in Sunday's season ending Valencia Grand Prix - a 1min 33.582secs circulation set by Honda's Max Biaggi.

"We tried the new bike today and it's not bad," commented Rossi after his 62 laps. "I have quite a good impression of it. I've already ridden it well and especially because we tried new Michelin tyres and it went well with those too.

"It seems to me to be more stable, and the traction is more or less better," he revealed. "This bike definitely has good potential for acceleration, and the handling is still sweet. The biggest change is in the chassis.

"At this moment we are quite clear on which direction to follow with it but this is just the first test and we still have a long way to go. We have concluded our first test with the new bike and now we look forward to the next test later this month," said Rossi.

Edwards' best lap around the Spanish circuit was 1min 34.56secs, set after 75 laps. That effectively matches his fastest lap from Sunday's season-ending Valencia Grand Prix, when he was riding a satellite spec Honda RC211V, and put him just over a second from Rossi.

The #45 has been released from his Telefonica Movistar Honda contract early to enable him to test the M1, but was forced to ride with an unliveried all-black bike (middle pic). Edwards will continue testing for Yamaha tomorrow (Thursday).

Meanwhile, Repsol Honda's Nicky Hayden celebrated his new HRC contract by setting the second fastest time of the day, just 0.01secs behind Rossi, while 2004 championship runner-up Sete Gibernau was just a tenth of a second adrift of the young American after resolving his race day tyre problems.

"We had a good day today and I put in 94 laps," said Nicky. "I managed to go faster than I did all race weekend at 1m 33.4s and that was on race tyres. I tested the new Michelin tyres and they helped with the difficulties I had holding my line in the race at the weekend. We have another day of testing here and I hope we can continue to improve."

"We tested tyres today and confirmed that I had chosen the wrong tyres for the race last Sunday," added Gibernau. "Today and tomorrow we will concentrate on finding the right direction for next season and will be testing chassis developments getting ready for the next tests we have planned."

Loris Capirossi, who switched between the Desmosedici GP4 in two different chassis and rear swing-arm configurations, was the fastest Ducati rider in fourth, just breaking the 1min 40secs barrier after a total of 62 laps as he found 0.5secs over his race pace. The Italian will continue to gather data for use on the final design of next year's Ducati tomorrow.

Meanwhile, new team-mate Carlos Checa exactly matched Capirossi's best, on what was the former factory Yamaha rider's second Desmosedici outing. The Spaniard set a 1min 33.9secs best during 88 laps, as he trimmed 0.1secs from his Monday time.

Ducati test-rider Vittoriano Guareschi was also out on track, riding an evolution version of the Desmosedici, on which several components - the exhausts, the lower fairing and the tail-unit - were being track-tested for the first time. Guareschi also lapped with the new chassis and swing-arm used by Capirossi. 'Vitto' completed 50 laps with a best time of 1min 36.5secs.

Biaggi, second to Rossi in Sunday's race, was left just sixth fastest today with a best time of 1min 34.3secs.

"Today I only did 34 laps as we tried out several chassis changes," he explained. "I could have been faster but the main purpose was to find the right direction we need to make progress in time for the next tests. We will continue on this line tomorrow."

Meanwhile, 250cc front runner Toni Elias completed his first day on a MotoGP machine, a Fortuna YZR-M1, by lapping a fraction over two-seconds from Rossi (lower pic).

Toni's pace would have put him 17th fastest in Sunday's GP and 0.7secs from Marco Melandri, the rider Elias is expected to replace at Tech 3 Yamaha next season.

Leading Valencia test times - Wednesday:

1.Valentino Rossi ITA Gauloises Fortuna Yamaha 1min 33.45secs
2.Nicky Hayden USA Repsol Honda 1min 33.46secs
3.Sete Gibernau SPA Telefonica Honda 1min 33.52secs
4.Loris Capirossi ITA Ducati Marlboro 1min 33.9secs
5.Carlos Checa SPA Ducati Marlboro 1min 33.9secs
6.Max Biaggi ITA Camel Honda 1min 34.3secs
7.Colin Edwards USA Gauloises Fortuna Yamaha 1min 34.56secs
8.Toni Elias SPA Yamaha 1min 35.48secs

Comparative lap times - 2004 Valencia GP:

Pole position: Makoto Tamada JPN Camel Honda 1min 32.815secsFastest lap: Max Biaggi ITA Camel Honda 1min 33.582secs