Carl Fogarty started his chase for a fifth world superbike title on Sunday with a third place and a crash at Kyalami in South Africa.
The American Colin Edwards gave the new Honda VTR 1000 a victory on its race debut while Japan's Noriyuki Haga won the second race on a Yamaha.
Fogarty, who last season secured an unprecedented fourth title but has since struggled to stay motivated, was a close third in the first race despite a shoulder problem. He then crashed in the second but escaped injury.
"Every time I win a world championship, I win the first race so it doesn't look too good," said Fogarty after the first race.
Edwards passed Haga three corners from the end of the first race to win by a fraction. Haga then took the lead from Edwards on the second lap of the second race and held on to win comfortably. Fogarty crashed out on the 11th lap.
The Australian former champion Troy Corser gave his new Aprilia team their best ever result with fourth place in both races.
Kenny Roberts, of the United States, won his second Malaysian 500cc title in Kuala Lumpur yesterday in a race reduced by six laps because of rain.