Former Yamaha rider Marco Melandri took to the race track for the very first time on a Honda RC211V today at Jerez, as he began a three day test session with his new Telefonica Movistar team.

Melandri, the 2002 250cc world champion, completed 66 laps of the Spanish circuit on his RCV, setting a best lap time of 1min 42.468secs. That put the Italian within 1.4secs of pace setter Loris Capirossi - and 0.783secs of team-mate, and 2004 championship runner-up, Sete Gibernau.

"I'm very happy, today everything was new but, from the beginning, I had very good feelings," smiled Marco. "The RC211V is completely different from the bike I was riding last year so I didn't push hard. I just wanted to start to know the bike and adjust my usual way of riding to the new bike. I was particularly impressed by the power of the engine of Honda, it is incredible!

"Fabrizio Cecchini, my new chief mechanic has helped me, we have worked a lot on my position of the seat," he continued. "I'm very happy because every time we made some changes, my feeling with the bike improved. I have also shared my first impressions with my team-mate, Sete Gibernau, I'm lucky because he is a very good point of reference for me."

Gibernau himself completed 57 laps today, his best time putting him fourth fastest behind Capirossi, Carlos Checa and Nicky Hayden.

"Today we have done a good job, starting from the bike we have used during this season," he said. "We are analyzing all the material we have at disposal in order to create a basis on which we can start to work for next year."

The Telefonica team will continue testing tomorrow and Friday.

Leading Jerez test times - Wednesday:

1.Loris Capirossi ITA Ducati Marlboro 1min 41.150secs
2.Carlos Checa SPA Ducati Marlboro 1min 41.314secs
3.Nicky Hayden USA Repsol Honda 1min 41.39secs
4.Sete Gibernau SPA Telefonica Honda 1min 41.685secs
5.Makoto Tamada JPN Konica Minolta Honda 1min 41.91secs
6.Shinya Nakano JPN Fuchs Kawasaki 1min 42.01secs
7.Marco Melandri ITA Telefonica Honda 1min 42.468secs
8.Alex Hofmann GER Fuchs Kawasaki 1min 42.51secs
9.Troy Bayliss AUS Camel Honda 1min 42.84secs

Comparative lap times - 2004 Spanish GP:

Pole position: Valentino Rossi ITA Gauloises Fortuna Yamaha 1min 40.818secs Fastest lap: Sete Gibernau SPA Telefonica Honda 1min 53.508secs (wet)