Alonso wins Australian Grand Prix, Villeneuve 6th

The Spaniard claimed his second victory of the season on Sunday.

Reigning Formula One world champion Fernando Alonso held off McLaren's Kimi Raikkonen on Sunday to win the Australian Grand Prix.

The Renault driver finished 1.829 seconds ahead of Raikkonen.

Alonso has now won two of the first three races of the 2006 season, having previously taken the checkered flag in the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix.

Alonso, from Spain, has 10 career F1 victories.

Toyota driver Ralf Shumacher of Germany finished third ahead of compatriot Nick Heidfeld.

Honda's Jenson Button of England, who had the pole, was knocked out of the race when his engine caught fire just short of the finish line.

Alonso's Renault teammate Giancarlo Fisichella of Italy finished fifth ahead of Jacques Villeneuve of Iberville, Que.

Button fought off two passing attempts by Alonso before the safety car entered the track following a couple of incidents involving Toyota's Jarno Trulli, Ferrari's Felipe Massa, Christian Klien and Nico Rosberg.

On the restart, Alonso beat Button into the first turn to take the lead.

A Christian Klien crash brought out the safety car a second time. On the restart, Alonso and Raikkonen moved out to more than seven seconds over Button.

Alonso built up a lead of 21.7 seconds after 31 laps and was being challenged by Michael Schumacher but the Ferrari driver slid through a turn and into the outside fence to bring out the safety car for a third time.

The race restarted on lap 37 but the safety car appeared for a fourth time after Vitantonio Liuzzi went off the track.

The green flag reappeared with 18 laps to go and Alonso once again jumped out to a big lead and eventually held on for the win over Raikkonen.

Alonso holds a 14-point edge in the driver's championship over both Raikkonen and Fisichella.

The next race on the F1 circuit is the San Marino Grand Prix on April 23.

with files from Sports Network