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Liuzzi gets Toro Rosso off the mark 02 Jul 2006

Vitantonio Liuzzi (ITA) Scuderia Toro Rosso STR01.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 10, United States Grand Prix, Practice Day, Indianapolis, USA, 30 June 2006

The high rate of attrition at the US Grand Prix meant that only a very depleted pack managed to get to the end of the race. But the first-lap incidents that removed nearly half of the field were very good news for the fledgling Toro Rosso team, who managed to claim their first world championship point with Vitantonio Liuzzi’s gritty drive to eighth place.

Admittedly there wasn’t a huge amount of competition left at the back of the pack - only a single car, Nico Rosberg’s Williams, finished behind him - but in the closing stages of the race, Liuzzi mounted a dogged defence of his position and held off the young German fair-and-square.

Toro Rosso's race weekend had got off to a strong start, with Liuzzi’s team- ate Scott Speed qualifying in an impressively high 13th place in front of his home crowd. Unfortunately for the team, Speed was one of the victims of the first-lap carnage and his race was over pretty much as soon as it had started.

The team’s hopes then rested entirely on Liuzzi’s shoulders, and as more of those running ahead of him fell by the wayside he gradually progressed up the order, moving from 11th to 10th when Jacques Villenveuve retired, taking ninth from Rosberg during the second round of pit stops and then inheriting eighth after Ralf Schumacher coasted back into the pits with a wheel bearing problem.

For a considerable portion of the race he even managed to put David Coulthard under some serious pressure, the Toro Rosso’s rev-limited V10 engine seeming to be more than a match for sister team Red Bull’s unlimited V8s on Indianapolis’s long straights. As the end of the race approached Rosberg also tried his hardest to save Williams’ blushes, but although he could close to within three seconds of Liuzzi, he could get no closer, much to Toro Rosso's delight.

The result means that only the Midland and Super Aguri teams are yet to claim a championship point this season.