Castrol Honda's Colin Edwards took an emphatic victory in today's opening race of the crucial 12th and penultimate round of the World Superbike championship at Assen in Holland.

Edwards was in fourth place on the opening lap before moving into second - ahead of Noriyuki Haga and Troy Bayliss - by the end of the first 3.7-mile circuit. A lap later the 28-year-old Texan was ahead of race leader Neil Hodgson to take his second win at the Assen circuit, finishing 3.6 seconds ahead of Bayliss.

Victory for Edwards closes the points gap to series leader Bayliss to 24, the closest Edwards has been to the title lead since the Japanese round in April when the pair left Sugo, also 24 points apart.

''I always felt I could win but that opening lap was a bit dicey,'' reported Edwards. ''I knew once I was in front I could make the break and I was kept in touch with Troy's progress - in fact I had just about every detail except the lunch menu on my pit signal board!''

He added: ''I couldn't fault the machine at all, it ran perfect and despite a bit of trouble with tyre selection yesterday Michelin came up with the goods. I've got to just keep winning and see how the championship develops. There's now three races left and I want to win the lot.''

Edwards victory was the 28th of his career making him the second most successful rider in the championship's history. It was also a record-equalling sixth win in succession and a record 22nd podium finish of the year.

Race 1 results - Assen (Netherlands) - round 12 of 13:

1. Colin Edwards USA Castrol Honda Honda 32m 58.601s 16 laps
2. Troy Bayliss AUS Ducati Infostrada Ducati +03.606s
3. Noriyuki Haga JPN Playstation2-FGF Aprilia +05.351s
4. Ruben Xaus SPA Ducati Infostrada Ducati +07.741s
5. Pierfrancesco Chili ITA NCR Axo Ducati +16.262s
6. James Toseland GB HM Plant Ducati +19.592s
7. Gregorio Lavilla SPA Alstare Suzuki Corona Suzuki +21.882s
8. Ben Bostrom USA Ducati L&M Ducati +22.166s
9. Broc Parkes AUS NCR Parmalat Ducati +36.474s
10. Juan Bautista Boria SPA Spaziotel Ducati +44.127s

11. Marco Borciani ITA Pedercini Ducati +46.636s
12. Peter Goddard AUS Benelli Sport Benelli +1m 04.516s
13. Mauro Sanchini ITA Bertocchi Kawasaki +1m 05.036s
14. Serafino Foti ITA Pedercini Ducati +1m 38.856s
15. Jeronimo Vidal SPA White Endurance Honda +1m 51.113s
16. Thierry Mulot FRA Pacific Ducati +2m 01.314s
17. Mark Heckles GB Castrol Honda Rumi Honda +1 lap

Rtd. Ivan Clementi ITA Kawasaki Bertocchi Kawasaki +3 laps
Rtd. Lucio Pedercini ITA Pedercini Ducati +7 laps
Rtd. Steve Martin AUS DFX Racing Ducati +9 laps
Rtd. Chris Walker GB Kawasaki Racing Kawasaki +10 laps
Rtd. Alessandro Antonello ITA DFX Racing Ducati +10 laps
Rtd. Neil Hodgson GB HM Plant Ducati +12 laps

DNS. Hitoyasu Izutsu JPN Kawasaki Kawasaki 0 laps completed

DNQ. Jiri Mrkyvka CZE JM Racing Ducati
DNQ. Yann Gyger SUI White Endurance Honda
DNQ. Henri Minnen NED Polskamp Ermelo Suzuki

Fastest lap:

Colin Edwards USA Castrol Honda Honda 2m 02.395s Lap 5