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.

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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.

As Okada finally broke the challenge of Bayliss and set about reducing the gap to his team-mate, a task he attempted with sack loads of courage as he trimmed nearly ten seconds off Edwards and pulled out an impressive 18seconds over Bayliss who, mindful of the absence of Troy Corser from the battle for the podium, preferred to bring the bike home in one piece. His toil was rewarded with his fifth podium result from the opening five races and a four-point lead over Corser in the standings after the Aprilia rider managed to salvage sixth place in a race where he knew he would struggle from the moment he saw the rain on the track.

Yanagawa claimed fourth place for Kawasaki after Xaus' departure although the Japanese rider had to fight his way passed the inspired Broc Parkes who masterfully held fourth place for several laps before finally ceding to his far more experienced rival and holding on for a tremendous fifth place at the flag in just his fifth ever World Superbike start.

Corser shadowed Parkes home in sixth and had the race gone a single lap further that sixth may well have become fifth such was his rate of closure but the fact that he was fully 1 minute and 17 seconds behind Edwards after 22-laps told the real story.

Frankie Chili and Stephane Chambon both splashed around in team formation and duly came home in seventh and eighth places after a pair of spirited rides but both were more than 90-seconds adrift of the winner and the last two on the lead lap.

Behind Chambon it was a tale of sheer survival and just being upright at the end virtually guaranteed points with Robert Ulm leading those more than a lap down at the flag in ninth place ahead of Australian wet weather ace Marty Craggill who gave the Pacific Team Ducati its best ever run, dicing furiously with the factory L&M Ducati of the thoroughly miserable Ben Bostrom for much of the race.

Finishing in a remarkable eleventh place was GSE Racing's Neil Hodgson who fell to 16th on the opening lap before dumping his Ducati onto the tarmac a lap later only to remount and fight his way through the field to score five valuable Championship points.

Steve Martin clung on for twelfth place ahead of wildcard Alistair Maxwell, James Toseland and Jiri Mrkyvka who all paddled around steadily to claim Championship points while everyone else either crashed or drowned.

The list of those who could have scored a hatful of points but fell foul of the conditions was headed principally by Xaus, Bostrom, Izutsu, Gregorio Lavilla, Giovanni Bussei, Juan Borja and Regis Laconi all of whom fell thankfully without serious harm. Bostrom eventually retired on lap 20 after giving best to Craggill while Borja, Lavilla and Bussei all fell out of sixth place at the Honda Hairpin on laps 11, 13 and 16 respectively. Izutsu fell from fifth in Turn One on lap five with Laconi following company later on the same lap.

With the rain and wind showing no signs of abating prior to the second race of the afternoon, Troy Bayliss looks as though he has another battle of survival on his hands if he wishes to keep his Championship lead for more than three hours with the Texas Tornado quickly approaching.