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.

Giovanni Bussei put in another heroic performance on the Bertocchi Kawasaki to finish in eighth place while Jurgen Oelschlager was able to utterly disgrace the following Katsuaki Fujiwara with ninth place. The Alpha Technik Yamaha rider engaged in a tense struggle with the second factory Suzuki until the under fire Fujiwara nearly dumped it onto the grass and settled for tenth.

Even further back amongst the finishers was the second factory Yamaha of Vittoriano Guareschi who scraped the final point for 15th position ahead of the seemingly lost Ben Bostrom.

Despite the conditions, the fervent Anglo-Dutch crowd celebrated Colin's dominant win in style while Haga was glad to overhaul Corser for second place in the championship after one of the most mature, if unspectacular rides of his career. From the Honda camp the message was clear though, Colin Edwards is still the man to beat for this year's title.