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DATE News (chronologically)
02/15/09
speedcar
Liuzzi wins but Melandri stars
MotoGP star Marco Melandri came within four laps of a shock Speedcar Series victory under the lights at Losail in Qatar on Saturday night, but a mechanical failure took him out, handing the victory to Vitantonio Liuzzi, who headed an Italian 1-2-3.

Melandri, who started only his second-ever car race from pole position, rocketed away at the start and built up a 7.5sec lead by lap nine, which was when Liuzzi passed Thomas Biagi for second place.

Liuzzi got the hammer down, and ate into Melandri's lead initially, but the Italian bike racing star had stabilized the gap, and was on course for a major shock victory, until his car suddenly slowed on lap 15.

"I was concentrating on not making any mistakes, but my gear changes were becoming more difficult, which didn't make it easy," said Melandri. "Then, all of a sudden, there were no more gears and I was out."

That gifted the lead to Liuzzi, who had been guiding Melandri on his learning curve all weekend, and he stroked home ahead of yesterday's winner Gianni Morbidelli.

"It was very lucky for me that Marco went out, and unlucky for him," said Liuzzi. "I had a lot more understeer than in the first race, and Marco was driving really well."

Morbidelli said: "I lost too much time in the early laps, so Vitantonio was too far away for me to catch him. Second position is great for my championship lead. That is the main thing for me."

Thomas Biagi finished third, although Heinz-Harald Frentzen looked poised to grab the place from him in the closing laps, only to make contact and then get rammed into a spin by Johnny Herbert.

Christopher Zoechling finished fourth, ahead of Frentzen and Herbert.

Jean Alesi looked strong in the early stages, but was forced to retire from fourth place with a power steering failure. He had been locked in an entertaining battle with Liuzzi early on, in which they passed and repassed each other three times.

The preliminary results are as follows:

Race 2 Preliminary Classification

Pos

Driver Team Laps Time / Gap
1 V. Liuzzi UP Team 19 40:03.661
2 G. Morbidelli Palm Beach 19 4.554
3 T. Biagi Palm Beach 19 14.021
4 C. Zoechling Durango 19 16.459
5 H. Frentzen Team Lavaggi 19 18.372
6 J. Herbert JMB 19 23.400
7 M. Lee HPR 19 39.058
8 D. Pasini JMB 19 47.788
9 N. Al Attiyah Team Barwa 19 63.061
10 F. Al Thani QMMF Team 18 1 LAP
11 M. Melandri Team Lavaggi 14 DNF
Not Classified
J. Alesi HPR 4 DNF
A. Al Kuwari QMMF Team 2 DNF
H. Al Maktoum UP Team 1 DNF
J. Villeneuve Durango 0 DNF
Fastest Lap
V. Liuzzi UP Team 2:05.261 on lap 16

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