Third on the opening lap, a few mistakes early on cost the reigning British Superbike Champion, Bayliss, Lavilla and Ben Bostrom all nipping past on the third lap before the latter endured no less than three stop/go penalties for jumping the start, passing under yellows and finally entering the pits incorrectly. The American withdrew in disgust after seven laps when things just got silly and Hodgson was able to capitalise and hold down fifth for the remaining laps, holding off the attentions of Akira Yanagawa towards the end of the race.
Yanagawa put in another storming charge from the outside of the fifth row, helped by the retirements of Okada, Laconi, Bostrom, Giovanni Bussei and Hitoyasu Izutsu, the last two named coming to grief at the final turn on lap three and the Japanese rider fought his way past Ruben Xaus late in the race to take a creditable sixth.
Xaus also lost seventh place in the closing stages to Frankie Chili who put in another solid effort on what was a brand new, previously un-ridden Suzuki on Friday, but the Spanish rider was able to hang on to eighth and his first WSBK finish in front of his adoring home fans.
James Toseland finished in a fantastic ninth position after starting from the pit-lane on the spare GSE Ducati when his race-bike developed a problem on the grid. The 20-year old Sheffield rider held down tenth ahead of a train of five bikes for most of the race including Steve Martin, Marco Borciani, Brock Parkes, Juan Borja and Robert Ulm, before breaking clear in the closing stages and passing a gripless Stephane Chambon on the second Alstare Corona Suzuki. A top ten result on his WSBK debut was just reward for a rider who broke his thigh last year in a testing accident at Cadwell Park and there looks as though there is plenty more to come.
Following Chambon home in eleventh place for his best WSBK result to date was the impressive Borciani on the leading Team Pedercini Ducati while Ulm, the 19-year-old Parkes on his WSBK debut; Borja and Lucio Pedercini completed the points scorers.
So, two races in and Aprilia have made the best start possible on a track they were expected to do well at. Troy Corser looks fit, sharp and determined to take a second world title while Laconi will continue to improve and challenge as he gets used to the bike. Colin Edwards coped as best he could given the circumstances and should show his true speed at Kyalami although Tady Okada probably wished he stayed at home today. Ducati looks strong as ever but of the three factory riders, Bayliss looks the most consistent and mistake free thus far while Kawasaki have thus far exceeded even their own expectations. Corser may be 2 for 2, but it would take a brave man to bet on a repeat performance in South Africa in three weeks time.