Morbidelli wins first Speedcar Series night race

13.02.2009: 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 t

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.

Qualifying Positions

 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

 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

 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

 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

- Speedcar Series


13.02.2009 / MaP

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