MotoGP exile 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 F1 star Vitantonio Liuzzi.

Melandri, who started only his second-ever car race from pole position, rocketed away at the start and built up a 7.5 second 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 stabilised 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."

For the record, Melandri finished eighth in race one on Friday, having qualified in fourth place.



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