Troy Bayliss has won the first World Superbike race of the weekend at Donington Park after an event fraught with action, controversy and ill-temper.
The Aussie rider was in imperious form to deny wild-card Tom Sykes a stunning victory on home ground as various riders hit problems. Only 14 riders, from 33, would see the chequered flag.
With the weather clearing in time for the first race, most of the riders began on slick tyres for what would be the first session of the weekend to be held in the dry, but the damp patches still caught James Ellison out, whose fifth place on the grid became 18th on the road when he slid across the pack with no grip and was clipped by another rider.
Up at the front, it was Ryuichi Kiyonari
who surged into the lead, ahead of Sykes, the Rizla rider up from seventh after a superb start. However, he would lose the position to Troy Bayliss
by the end of the lap.
Ruben Xaus emerged in fourth, ahead of Troy Corser, Carlos Checa, Max Biaggi, Leon Haslam, Cal Crutchlow and Chris Walker.
Given his confidence in the wet, the demise of Kiyonari on the second lap came as a massive surprise, the Japanese rider losing the back end of his Ten Kate Honda to slide off at the Old Hairpin. The team's bad fortune was compounded when Kenan Sofuoglu
came down on the same lap.
Bayliss now led by a comfortable margin but Sykes was remaining in touch and as the laps rolled on, he was steadily breaking the gap down to the leader. Reeling him in gradually, Sykes was on his tail of the Ducati by lap five and giving the championship leader real pressure.
With Bayliss eager to protect his championship advantage, it perhaps wasn't surprising to find he didn't put up too much of an effort when Sykes slid beneath him at Coppice on lap seven and took the lead.
And away Sykes went, the wild-card rider pulling away quickly as he lapped considerably better than those behind him. By lap ten, he was almost four seconds up the road.
However, lap ten was when the race was first brought to a halt following a flurry of accidents at Coppice. It seems the engine on Noriyuki Haga's Yamaha was letting go and was spilling oil on the circuit in the process. Going quite far before realising his problem, Haga – who was running fifth – had given the notoriously tricky Coppice a good dousing before he pulled off the circuit.