Troy Bayliss scored his fourth victory of the 2001 season with a daring last lap move on long-time leader Ben Bostrom in Sunday's first race at a boiling hot Misano circuit in Italy to extend his Championship lead over fourth place finisher Colin Edwards.
Sunday's opening 25-lap World Superbike battle around the 2.52-mile Misano circuit on Italy's Adriatic coast was highlighted by a tremendous tussle between Infostrada Ducati rider Troy Bayliss and his L&M counterpart Ben Bostrom in which the Australian finally emerged victorious by less than half a second after a daring last lap move down the ultra quick back straight into the tight Tramonto corner.
Bostrom, riding with a very painful shoulder that will require surgery before the year is out, took the lead on the opening lap from fast starter Colin Edwards and then paced the field as Bayliss made short work of those in front of him by making a decent getaway from sixth on the grid. By lap five Bayliss was tucked up behind Bostrom after passing Edwards, Troy Corser and Neil Hodgson in quick succession but the 27-year old Californian was riding superbly and the current Championship leader could only follow in Bostrom's wheel tracks as they slowly edged away from the rest of the field.
The action started on lap17 when Bayliss got a fantastic run out of turn three onto the back straight and was able to draft past Bostrom under heavy breaking for Tramonto. Two laps later Bostrom was back in the lead after Bayliss made a slight mistake coming out of the first corner allowing Bostrom to sneak back underneath him going into turn three but try as he might, Bostrom could not break clear.
On the penultimate lap Bayliss tried to go around the outside of Bostrom coming into Tramonto and the two riders went two wide around the tight, cambered corner with Bostrom clinging to the low line as Bayliss was forced high. On that occasion Bostrom was able to fend the Australian off but a lap later, and just half a lap from the chequered flag, he had no answer as Bayliss sweetly outbraked him into the same corner and went on to take his second win in succession following his race two triumph at the Lausitzring.
The racing was equally as entertaining behind the leading two with Gregorio Lavilla working wonders on the four-cylinder Kawasaki to claim third ahead of Edwards after a prolonged tussle. The Spanish rider made a steady start from the second row and came across the line in ninth place at the end of lap one but then proceeded to cleanly pick off Regis Laconi, his team-mate Akira Yanagawa, Alessandro Antonello, Hodgson, Corser and finally Edwards as he made his bid to catch the leading duo. The factory Kawasaki star stayed within 2.5-seconds of the leaders until about two thirds distance when is attention was diverted by Edwards, who managed to get his nose back into third place before Lavilla reclaimed the final podium position two laps before the end.
The battle for fifth place was equally gripping with Yanagawa, Corser, Hodgson and Laconi going at it hammer and tongs for the second half of the race with the Japanese rider just taking the place ahead of Hodgson as Corser got his gripless Aprilia very sideways coming out of the final turn as they fanned out three wide across the line. Laconi had previously passed his team-leader before a mechanical problem struck suddenly on lap 18 putting him out for the day.
Alessandro Antonello crossed the line in eighth place, 20 seconds down on Bayliss ahead of Tadayuki Okada and another great scrap for tenth involving Ruben Xaus, James Toseland and Pierfrancesco Chili. Xaus surprised many by managing to stay upright for 25 laps after three qualifying crashes and was rewarded with tenth spot, three tenths ahead of the impressive Toseland and four tenths clear of a miserable Frankie Chili who still maintained his 100 per cent points scoring record despite riding a bike that obviously detests this circuit.
Steve Martin, Stephane Chambon and the returning Alex Gramigni completed the points scorers although Peter Goddard was on course to beat all three on the Benelli Tornado 900 before the beautiful sounding machine gave up the ghost after an impressive debut on lap 17.
Bostrom gets another shot at Bayliss later this afternoon while Corser and Edwards will be determined not to let the Australian build any more of a Championship lead.