Colin Edwards obliterated the rest of the World Superbike field in atrocious conditions at Phillip Island to win the first race of the day as the Castrol Honda team celebrated their first one-two result of the year and Troy Bayliss
took the Championship lead.
In what were possibly the worst conditions ever seen in a World Superbike event with pouring rain and gale force winds battering the beautiful, yet painfully exposed 2.762-mile Phillip Island circuit in Southern Australia, defending World Champion Colin Edwards put on a masterful display to take his second win of the season and put himself right back into the thick of the 2001 title chase.
The American Castrol Honda rider led all but one lap of the 22-lap event as he skilfully negotiated the truly awful track conditions to head home his team-mate Tadayuki Okada by four and a half seconds, the Japanese rider scoring his first points of the season after four straight retirements.
Troy Bayliss completed the podium on the leading factory Ducati after battling with Okada for the first half of the race, the Australian rider eventually deciding not to push things too hard on a track that caught out nearly half of the 30-strong grid.
From the inside of the second row it was Bayliss who led the field around the opening lap as pole man Troy Corser
and second place starter Neil Hodgson
found absolutely no traction when the lights went green and were left stranded in the ball of spray that enveloped all but the leading few runners.
At the end of the opening tour Bayliss had Edwards and Okada ensconced firmly on his rear with the rest of the field, initially led by Steve Martin's Pirelli shod DFX Racing Ducati, from no less than 12th on the grid, already falling back at a rate of up to three seconds a lap.
Any thoughts Bayliss harboured of securing a home win were firmly dashed by the end of lap two as Edwards splashed his way into a lead that he quickly extended to four seconds at the end of lap four and then to an almost ridiculous eleven seconds by lap nine as he made the rest of the field look almost amateur.
Bayliss and Okada swapped places several times as they fought for what was always going to be second place as Martin firstly fell away and then was passed by the Kawasaki's of Akira Yanagawa and Hitoyasu Izutsu, the superbly ridden NCR Ducati of Australian teenager Broc Parkes and the factory Ducati of noted rain-master Ruben Xaus.
Xaus was arguably the star performer in the early going as he fought his way passed more than a dozen bikes after a poor start to snatch fourth from Yanagawa on lap five and then carve into the massive ten second deficit to Bayliss and Okada recording the fastest lap of the race, a mightily brave 1 minute 46.456 seconds on lap seven. Ten seconds had turned into five by the end of lap seven but in his efforts to pull back more time on the leading trio, Xaus departed the scene on lap eight after pushing the front end of his Ducati just that little bit too far.