Marco Melandri began his career as a four-wheeled racer in impressive style during free practice for his maiden Speedcar outing, the MotoGP exile ending up fifth fastest.

Refusing to sit on the sidelines following Kawasaki's factory withdrawal from MotoGP, Melandri showed no signs of his limited car racing experience by proving competitive throughout the session, held under floodlights at Losail, Qatar.

Benefiting from knowing the layout of the circuit from his time in MotoGP, Melandri nonetheless admits he was lapping quicker than he had expected.

"I had the advantage of knowing the track but the racing lines are different when comparing a Speedcar to a motorbike. The car understeers quite a lot but I had a great time on the track. It's a difficult car to drive but not as hard as I expected. I had estimated to finish around 10th place so to finish in 5th was a great result."

Melandri is driving a Team Lavaggi prepared car alongside Formula 1 race winner Heinz-Harald Frentzen, whom the Italian out-paced. Other notable scalps included multiple sportscar champion Thomas Biagi and 1997 Formula 1 champion Jacques Villeneuve.

A 30 minute qualifying session will be held tomorrow at 17:45 local time followed by Race 1 at 21:40.

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