Speedcar: Series Qatar race one report

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...

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 favour 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.

-credit: sc

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Series Road racing
Drivers Heinz-Harald Frentzen , Jean Alesi , Jacques Villeneuve , Vitantonio Liuzzi , Marco Melandri , Gianni Morbidelli , Hasher Al Maktoum