Troy Bayliss increased his overall Championship lead with a superbly controlled wet weather ride under intense pressure from Neil Hodgson on a drying Lausitzring track. Colin Edwards completed the podium but was a class below the two Ducati riders who rode with bravery and precision to top off a thoroughly absorbing race.

Heavy rain during the supporting World Supersport event at the Lausitzring ensured that all World Superbike teams and riders had a tough decision to make before the start of the second 24-lap test of the day around the by now highly treacherous, twelve turn 2.67-mile long course and it was the factory Infostrada Ducati team who handled the changing conditions best as they propelled Troy Bayliss to his third win of the 2001 season.

The brand new tarmac may have provided a billiard-table smooth surface in race one but in wet conditions it was a totally different proposition as the track surface has not yet gained the necessary draining qualities leaving the surface deceptively slippery. Although the rain had abated by the time the WSB contenders left the dummy grid all 30 riders would start the race on wet weather tyres but a dry line was expected to emerge should the rain stay away.

Right from the start of the race it was clear that pole-sitter Neil Hodgson and his former GSE Racing team-mate Troy Bayliss were head and shoulders above the rest of the field as Hodgson led his Australian friend into the first corner, which thankfully everyone survived. However by the end of the first lap Bayliss found enough of a draft to pull himself alongside Hodgson and the last two British Superbike Champions swapped places going into the first corner.

From that point onwards Bayliss was never headed although to say his win was easy would be a gross understatement as Hodgson gritted his teeth and really got stuck into the Michelin shod Ducati, a combination that was expected to outshine Hodgson's Dunlop mounted machine when the conditions were really wet but conversely expected to suffer if the track dried out. During the opening ten laps the two leading protagonists pulled out more than 20-seconds over the rest of the field and traded fastest laps back and forth until Bayliss finally carved out what appeared to be a comfortable advantage.

Hodgson refused to back down however and by half distance a semi-dry line was appearing on certain sections of the track and the GSE Racing rider gradually began to cut into Bayliss' three second advantage, safe in the knowledge that his nearest pursuer was close on half a minute behind him. His mid-race spurt seemed to have Bayliss rattled and lap by lap the gap gradually began to drop as the Infostrada bike started to look increasingly ragged and by lap 17 just 1.2-seconds separated them.

Shrugging off his race one disappointment with ease, Hodgson threw caution to the wind and started pushing the bike deeper and deeper into the corners as Bayliss' looks over his shoulder became all the more frequent, but a big moment for both riders coming through the final flip-flop section cost Hodgson valuable tenths and with four laps to go the gap was back out to more than a second and a half. But then just as things looked as though they were going to calm down Hodgson retaliated once more on what as to be considered one of his most mature performances to date and as the orange and purple bike once again began to close, Bayliss missed several crucial apex's and the 27-year old Burnley rider could smell victory as they started their final lap.

Through the first chicane complex and Hodgson was visibly quicker as they headed out onto the first of two infield straights. Under braking Hodgson once again closed and as the two leaders charged down the last real straight before the end of the lap Hodgson was right underneath Bayliss but couldn't quite get alongside under braking for the final twisty section that offered no realistic passing opportunities. However the excitement wasn't finished there for as Bayliss accelerated out of the final chicane the back end of his bike suddenly got well out of shape allowing Hodgson to get one final run as they sped towards the chequered flag.

Had Hodgson been riding a full factory 2001-spec Ducati 996 the result may have been different but as it was Bayliss somehow managed to cling on by two tenths of a second to score another superb victory to add to his spectacular Monza double.

Hodgson was nonetheless delighted to score his first podium outside Britain this season and he remains in contention for the title should Bayliss start to slip up. The 27-year old English rider went the wrong way on tyre choice in race one but came back with a vengeance in race two and thoroughly deserves his second place on the podium.

With all the excitement for the lead it would be easy to forget the thrilling battle that took place behind the leading duo as race one winner Colin Edwards fought his way through the field magnificently to claim third place, albeit more than 20-seconds down on Hodgson, after a bad start left him 12th at the end of lap one. Edwards was a joy to watch in the early going as he carved his way past what had become a tremendous battle for fourth place behind Bayliss, Hodgson and Troy Corser that revolved around Tadayuki Okada, Broc Parkes, Ruben Xaus, Hitoyasu Izutsu, Pierfrancesco Chili and Regis Laconi.

Okada initially held the spot until he was comprehensively out-done by the brilliant Parkes on lap three and Parkes' privateer NCR Ducati was already making good ground on Corser when a cruel intermittent mechanical problem forced the 19-year old prodigy of Wayne Gardner to slow dramatically, dropping him out of contention before he finally retired on lap 14.

With Parkes gone Okada regained the position but it wasn't long before he had to give way to Edwards and the typically spectacular Xaus who managed to stay in front of the defending WSB Champion until lap seven, by which time the tyres on Corser's bike were past their best and he became easy prey for both the Castrol Honda and the Infostrada Ducati.

Xaus however was to be robbed of his best WSB finishing position by a determined late race charge from Izutsu and the crafty Chili who, as usual, kept his tyres in great shape to make up ground near the end of the race and the veteran Italian followed Izutsu passed Xaus with less than three laps remaining. Izutsu's performance in the wet was another highlight and Edwards' progress to the front of the field would have been far more impressive had he not come upon the No.19 Kawasaki who was arguably the hardest rider he had to pass on his way to the bottom step of the podium. Izutsu claimed fourth eventually, two seconds behind Edwards and more than eight ahead of Chili, who along with Bayliss, has scored points in every race this year.

Xaus still had reason to smile with sixth place after finishing a race many predicted he wouldn't although Corser was certainly not smiling as he fell further behind Bayliss and Edwards in the standings, his tyres shredded en-route to seventh place. The Aprilia rider even had his hands full late in the race with the second factory Suzuki of Stephane Chambon who was less than two seconds behind him at the flag after making easy work of the gripless Okada.

Akira Yanagawa salvaged tenth place behind Okada after a bizarre first corner incident, which saw both Bertocchi Kawasaki's and the factory bikes of Yanagawa and Gregorio Lavilla, run incredibly wide and drop to the very tail of the field. The Japanese rider was once again playing catch-up all race after crossing the line in 21st place on the opening lap and he methodically picked off riders one by one as he steadily rose through the field as the race wore on in what was a very underrated performance. Lavilla on the other hand struggled with his tyres from the mid-point of the race and was eventually passed by such luminaries as Mauro Sanchini and Bertrand Stey as he fell out of the points to finish 16th.

Robert Ulm recovered well from his qualifying spill and a race one retirement to finish 11th ahead of the impressively ridden Team Pedercini Ducati of Sanchini and a disappointed Laconi who suffered the same tyre-wear fate as his team-mate. Steve Martin shone in the very early laps before sliding backwards on his Pirelli shod Ducati while Stey's White Endurance Honda completed the points scorers.

Lavilla, James Toseland and Juan Borja were the first three home to miss out on Championship points but one had to look behind the wildcard Ducati of Matteo Campana to find the third of the factory 996RS' of Ben Bostrom. Bostrom's dislike of the wet was never more apparent than here although his injured shoulder probably didn't help but nevertheless the third place starter was 20th at the end of lap one and continued to fall backwards to the point that at one point he was an unbelievable 25th. Lapped by Bayliss and Hodgson on lap 13 (of 24!!!!!) Bostrom deserves credit for staying out and finishing the race but 20th place will not do his CV any good at all.

Considering the highly treacherous conditions the race was one of remarkably little attrition with the only faller being Marty Craggill on the Pacific Team Ducati while it is interesting to note that all eight retirements rode Ducati's of varying vintage and speed for several of those who failed to make the flag simply gave up when they saw the leaders ride past them at twice the pace of what they were running.