Colin Edwards increased his Championship lead over Noriyuki Haga
and Troy Corser
with a masterful performance at a rain soaked Assen to take his first win since Monza.
A torrential rainstorm utterly soaked the 3.76-mile Assen circuit on Sunday morning and conditions were simply atrocious as the 33 bikes lined up for the first of Sunday's two crucial races. The difficult Assen track, with its continuing twists and turns and never ending changes of camber, is hard enough in the dry and therefore virtually impossible when a large portion of the riders grip has been removed.
First to discover how treacherous conditions were, was front row man Troy Bayliss
on the Infostrada Ducati. The Australian rider led Edwards away from the start and despite having no real knowledge of the circuit he led the opening tour convincingly before getting caught out at the second corner of lap two.
Once Bayliss had disappeared, Edwards was challenged strongly by the other works Ducati of Juan Borja. The Spaniard, who revels in the wet conditions, was putting in his most assured WSB performance to date and clung to the rear faring of Edwards for the opening ten laps before the American finally broke away.
The state of the track undoubtedly made the race the most spread out World Superbike race of the year for once Borja was broken, Edwards was able to cruise home with ten seconds to spare. Borja kept the Ducati upright to record a fighting second place while rounding out the podium after a quiet race was Noriyuki Haga.
The Yamaha rider does not like racing in the wet and many had predicted the fiery Japanese star to end the race in a gravel trap but despite being 20 seconds behind the winner, Haga stayed on two wheels to keep his Championship hopes alive.
Troy Corser was a similarly cautious fourth while Aaron Slight
had to use all his years of WSB experience to keep his Honda on the track to take fifth place. Akira Yanagawa gave Kawasaki reason to smile with a gritty sixth place and was the only other rider within a minute of Edwards.
The sinuous Assen circuit claimed no less than ten riders in the first 16-lap event including Gregorio Lavilla on the second works Kawasaki, Pier Francesco Chili
on the quickest of the Suzuki's and the Red Bull Ducati of Andy Meklau. Thankfully no one was hurt and although the damage on some machines was too serious to repair on the day, pride was the only real injury.
With the rain providing a great leveller, many of the unsung heroes of the WSB tour were given a chance to shine, none more than the returning Doriano Romboni on the R & D Bieffe Ducati who, in his first race in more than a year, came home in seventh place for one of the team's best results of the year.