Troy Bayliss used the superior power of the Infostrada Ducati to keep a fired up Neil Hodgson
at bay in Race One at Brands Hatch, an event marred by a horrific looking crash involving Steve Hislop.
With the perennially unlucky James Haydon and Haruchika Aoki being forced to withdraw from the race after the morning warm up and Massimo De Silvestro and Claude Alain Jaggi not being permitted to start due to their painfully slow qualifying times, 32 bikes lined up on a muggy startline for the first 25 lap dash.
Twenty minutes later, 31 bikes lined up to try and make the start once again. The unfortunate absentee was British Yamaha rider Steve Hislop who became embroiled in a horrific accident with Colin Edwards and Noriyuki Haga
as the pack hurtled around Paddock for the first time.
Edwards appeared to clip the rear of pole-sitter Neil Hodgson
which caused the Honda rider to sit up. Hislop, on the outside of Edwards also had to quickly check up but contact was made and both riders were pitched into the air. The fast starting Haga was also caught up and ran over Hislop as the three headed toward the gravel, Edwards and Haga being thrown clear of their bikes while Hislop was caught up with his and somersaulted several times before coming to rest just a few feet from his mangled bike.
The Scottish star was seen to be clutching his left leg as the dust settled although it took the circuit doctors some 15 minutes to remove him from the gravel bed and place him in an ambulance. Preliminary reports suggest that his injuries are not life threatening but he will definitely not ride again today.
Haga and Edwards were left to take the re-start on their spare bikes although neither rider let the first turn incident affect them, Edwards shooting into the lead from the front row as Haga catapulted through the field from the outside of the fourth row to second by the end of the first lap.
Also on fire in the early going was Troy Bayliss
who moved into third on the second lap and quickly set about dealing with those ahead of him. The Ducati rider swiftly moved up on Edwards and Haga, outbraking them beautifully into Surtees on the third second tour.
Edwards soon dropped back as he struggled to get to grips with his spare bike which didn't have the same suspension settings as his primary machine. The Texan soon dropped behind Hodgson, Chris Walker
and Frankie Chili who led the chase in third, fourth and fifth before losing further places to his team-mate Aaron Slight
and title rival Troy Corser.
The fanatical British crowd were treated to a thrilling battle at the front for although Bayliss was able to keep the gap back to Haga stable at about 15 bike lengths, the Japanese rider soon had Hodgson, Walker and Chili climbing all over the back of him.