LE MANS, June 17, 2001 – ABC’s Wide World of Sports has often suggested that sports involve the “thrill of victory and the agony of defeat.” Well, that may be true for athletic adventures that last for less than three hours, some less than ten seconds. But for those participating in the 24 Hours of Le Mans the emotions are more of sheer physical and mental exhaustion and the pride of finishing this momentous race.

At Le Mans, while winning is the ultimate objective for any manufacturer, the honor traditionally bestowed to those who finish this 24 hour marathon is timeless. At Le Mans, to finish is also victory.

That is why a few moments after the #1 Audi, the overall winner, crossed the finished line at 4 p.m. on Sunday, those gathered in the Saleen pit suite toasted the drivers and crews of the two Saleen S7Rs to finish the 2002 classic. Last year, the #60 Saleen/Allen Speedlab factory car gained a well-earned third-place podium finish in the Saleen S7R’s inaugural trip to Le Mans, setting the fastest lap en route.

This year, Saleen customer teams took the battle to the two factory Corvettes and a nest of Chrysler Vipers. The #68 RML/Graham Nash Saleen S7R finished fifth in GTS behind the #63 Corvette that won for the second-straight year at the 8.5-mile Sarthe Circuit. The #66 Konrad Motorsport, driven by last year’s podium mates Franz Konrad and Terry Borcheller, was seventh in class in spite of four hours lost replacing a gearbox that was
holed by a stone.

“We’re real proud of the effort put forth by our customer teams this year,” stated Steve Saleen, the creator of the S7R. “They not only had to compete against a well-financed factory effort, but also had to deal with a tremendous handicap imposed by the ACO. We are looking forward to the day that we can compete with the Vettes and the Vipers on a level playing field. We’re sure the result will be quite different.”

All three Graham Nash Motorsport Saleen S7Rs return to action in the British and Spanish GT Championships both of which they currently lead. The Konrad Motorsport Saleen S7Rs will battle the factory Corvettes in the next rounds of the American Le Mans series at Mid-Ohio (June 30) and Road America (July 7).