Colin Edwards put in a textbook performance in the opening race of the day at Kyalami to take his first win of the 2001 World Superbike Championship ahead of Troy Bayliss and Troy Corser.

It may not have been the most exciting race to watch as Colin Edwards led all but three laps en-route to a dominant victory in the opening race of the weekend at a hot AA Kyalami circuit in South Africa as his brutish Honda VTR1000 found the high-altitude South African circuit much more to its liking.

In a race devoid of almost any overtaking, Edwards passed early race leader Troy Bayliss with ease going into the Goodyear corner on lap three and proceeded to pace the race almost at will, setting a new lap record of 1 minute 43.101 seconds on lap six of the 25-lap event as he cruised to a 1.8 second victory.

The tough talking Texan made an inauspicious start to his WSBK title defence three weeks ago in Valencia where the twisty nature of the Ricardo Tormo circuit favoured the more nimble bikes amongst the WSBK field but at a track where both Edwards and the bike are happy, he looks nigh on unbeatable.

Not even a determined Bayliss, who capitalised on a tardy start by pole-sitter Ben Bostrom to take an early lead on the Infostrada Ducati, had an answer for Edwards who kept the Aussie at bay throughout, casually eking out a tenth or two almost every lap despite being on a softer tyre compound than his pursuer.

The eventual margin of victory could have been far greater had Edwards not eased up slightly in the closing laps as he cruised to his third straight victory at the 2.649-mile track.

Bayliss was left to take his third straight second place this year as he closed the gap to current Championship leader Troy Corser to just six points. Corser finished a somewhat distant third almost five seconds down on Edwards after maintaining his first lap position throughout the race while Bostrom came home fourth after shadowing the Aprilia for the entire race but not once able to make a pass for the position.

Akira Yanagawa made some good early progress on the best of the Kawasaki's moving up from eighth on the grid to pass Neil Hodgson on lap three and for a while the Japanese rider tagged along with Corser and Bostrom only to fall away during the middle portion of the race.

Pierfrancesco Chili came home sixth on the leading Suzuki, albeit more than half a minute behind Edwards after a lonely ride while Gregorio Lavilla just held off the injured Regis Laconi for seventh place, the two circulating together for the entire distance but with Laconi not able to find a way past the Spaniard.

Ruben Xaus had a quiet and trouble-free run to ninth on the second Infostrada Ducati while Stephane Chambon repeated his best result from Valencia with tenth spot ahead of the battling NCR Ducati duo Giovanni Bussei and rookie Brock Parkes. The two black machines were responsible for one of the best battles of the race as the experienced Bussei fought to hold off his younger team-mate although once again, overtaking was not on the menu as the Italian beat the Australian who still scored the best result of his short WSBK career.

Thirteenth past the post was Austrian Robert Ulm on the spare Gerin Ducati after he completely destroyed his lead bike in qualifying yesterday while James Toseland salvaged 14th on the very last corner after suffering a ten second penalty for jumping the start.

Edwards aside, the young Briton was undoubtedly the star of the race as he fell from a top ten position to stone last when he took the penalty on lap five only to carve through the tail-enders and finally past not one but two of the Team Pedercini Ducati's on the final lap to take two valuable championship points.

Marco Borciani completed the point's scorers in 15th ahead of team-boss Lucio Pedercini who lost out on a single point when Toseland's orange and purple missile shot passed on the penultimate corner.

Attrition was low with only three of the 27 starters failing to make the flag however amongst the unhappy trio was Neil Hodgson who pulled his GSE Racing Ducati up on the start finish straight on lap twelve whilst lying in sixth spot and the persistently unlucky Tadayuki Okada who fell by the wayside as early as lap six when his Honda developed a mechanical problem.

With three hours between race one and race two, every team in the paddock will now be working frantically to try and find a way of beating Edwards and the Castrol Honda team who look set to complete a South African double unless something goes drastically wrong in race two.