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DATE News (chronologically)
02/13/09
speedcar
Morbidelli wins first Speedcar Series night race
Gianni Morbidelli won the first-ever Speedcar Series night race at Losail in Qatar on Friday night, heading home fellow Italian ex-Formula 1 racer Vitantonio Liuzzi.

The rolling start was a bit chaotic, with poleman Heinz-Harald Frentzen rushing off into the lead as fellow front-row man Jacques Villeneuve didn't make the best of starts, allowing Jean Alesi to grab second on the run to Turn 1.

Frentzen ran wide into the opening corner, allowing Alesi to snatch the lead. Morbidelli ran third, as fourth-placed qualifier Marco Melandri suffered a spin in the opening corners and the MotoGP star dropped to the tail of the field.

Morbidelli grabbed second, just before Frentzen pulled off the circuit with a mechanical failure, and then jumped into the lead when Alesi ran wide. Further back, Liuzzi - who was earlier delayed when a backmarker punted Villeneuve into a spin in front of him - took third from Johnny Herbert, and set off in pursuit of Alesi.

Vitantonio caught him at half distance, which sparked a pass-and-repass battle, which Liuzzi decided in his favor two laps later.

With 12 minutes of the race remaining, Morbidelli was 9.2secs in the lead, but he slashed that down to 2.8secs by the finish. Herbert took third from Alesi after a great battle in the closing laps, Alesi eventually losing the place when he slid wide at Turn 1.

"It was great to win here," said Morbidelli. "I knew I had the pace over Jean and Heinz-Harald; I knew I was fast. When I got away I managed to pull a big gap to them, and then it was a matter of not making any big mistakes."

Liuzzi said: "After gearbox problems in qualifying, this was our true pace today. I had some really nice and tough fights, but I had a problem when I came to lap a car, which hit another car in front of me. After I had got back ahead of Johnny, and then passed Jean, Gianni had already gone."

Third-placed Herbert said: "It was a great fight with Jean. I got past him, then I made a mistake, but was able to get him back again."

Villeneuve never recovered from his bad start and collision with a backmarker, but still finished fifth, ahead of Hasher Al Maktoum, Thomas Biagi and Melandri, who suffered another spin but just beat Christopher Zoechling to the finish line.

Race two starts at 21.00 local time on Saturday with Marco Melandri in pole position having finished eighth and gaining the advantage of the reverse grid at the second race.

Qualifying Positions

Pos Driver Team Laps Time / Gap
1 H. Frentzen Team Lavaggi 12 2:03.967
2 J. Villeneuve Durango 12 0.134
3 J. Alesi HPR 10 0.460
4 M. Melandri Team Lavaggi 13 0.630
5 G. Morbidelli Palm Beach 12 0.668
6 J. Herbert JMB 13 0.669
7 V. Liuzzi UP Team 7 1.119
8 D. Pasini JMB 13 1.430
9 M. Lee HPR 13 1.854
10 H. Al Maktoum UP Team 14 1.919
11 T. Biagi Palm Beach 13 2.061
12 C. Zoechling Durango 10 2.430
13 N. Al Attiyah Team Barwa 13 4.475
14 F. Al Thani QMMF Team 11 8.713
15 A. Al Kuwari QMMF Team 13 8.901

Race 1 Classification

Pos

Driver Team Laps Time / Gap
1 G. Morbidelli Palm Beach 20 41:58.910
2 V. Liuzzi UP Team 20 2.861
3 J. Herbert JMB 20 10.144
4 J. Alesi HPR 20 12.598
5 J. Villeneuve Durango 20 27.029
6 H. Al Maktoum UP Team 20 43.593
7 T. Biagi Palm Beach 20 43.806
8 M. Melandri Team Lavaggi 20 51.354
9 C. Zoechling Durango 20 53.757
10 N. Al Attiyah Team Barwa 20 88.523
11 A. Al Kuwari QMMF Team 19 1 LAP
12 F. Al Thani QMMF Team 16 2 LAPS

Not Classified
M. Lee HPR 9 DNF
H. Frentzen Team Lavaggi 6 DNF
D. Pasini JMB 2 DNF

Fastest Lap
V. Liuzzi UP Team 2:06.825 on lap 10

Drivers' Championship Standings in Round 3, Race 5

Pos Driver R1 R2 R3 R4 R5 TOTAL
1 Gianni Morbidelli 6 - 5 8 10 29
2 Johnny Herbert 5 - 6 10 6 27
3 Heinz Harald Frentzen 8 - 8 5 - 21
4 Vitantonio Liuzzi 10 - - 1 8 19
5 Jean Alesi - - 10 3 5 18
6 Hasher Al Maktoum 4 - 4 2 3 13
7 Thomas Biagi - - 3 6 2 11
8 Jacques Villeneuve 3 - - - 4 7
Damien Pasini 1 - 2 4 - 7
10 Marchy Lee 2 - - - - 2
11 Giovanni Lavaggi - - 1 - - 1
Marco Melandri - - - - 1 1

Teams' Championship Standings in Round 3, Race 5

Pos Team R1 R2 R3 R4 R5 TOTAL
1 Palm Beach 6 - 8 14 12 40
2 JMB Racing 6 - 8 14 6 34
3 UP Team 14 - 4 3 11 32
4 HPR 2 - 10 3 5 20
5 Team Lavaggi - - 8 5 1 14
6 Phoenix Racing 8 - - - - 8
7 Durango 3 - - - 4 7
8 Team Siram - - 1 - - 1

R1 = Dubai, UAE - December 5, 2008
R2 = Dubai, UAE - December 6, 2008 (cancelled due to rain)
R3 = Sakhir, Bahrain - January 23, 2009
R4 = Sakhir, Bahrain - January 24, 2009
R5 = Doha, Qatar - February 13, 2009

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