Team Saleen/Oreca Win Spa With S7R Drivers Ortelli & Ayari Capture Podium Win & Fastest Lap Earning Race
Victory in GT1 Series Beating Aston Martins, Corvettes, Ferrari & Lamborghini

IRVINE, CA, May 16, 2006 – Championing the Saleen S7R, Team Saleen/Oreca drivers, Stephane Ortelli and Soheil Ayari captured the win in Belgium, at Spa Francorchamps, in their debut GT1 Le Mans Series race.

Competing in overcast-to-sunny skies, the Saleen S7R ran effortlessly for over six hours with GT1 contenders, in which the American-made race car prevailed over the field of Aston Martins, Corvettes, a Ferrari, and a Lamborghini — only to secure the win in the end!

On this exciting road course, Spa Francorchamps is considered to be one of the greatest and most challenging circuits in the world, and is rich in history from running the F1 series to sports cars. Measuring 4.350 miles (6.973km), the course marks an extremely fast and nimble endurance race to conquer. With that in mind, the local weather in the Belgian Ardennes Forest is extremely harsh. At various points of the track, the weather can vastly differ from one point to the next — from wet to dry; and from hot to cold. Throughout the weekend, the weather, in addition to the ability of both drivers to dominate the course, as well as the team’s race strategy, made for a winning combination.

Hugues de Chaunac, president of Oreca Groupe stated, “The Saleen/Oreca team united Ayari’s and Ortelli’s precision driving skills coupled with a superior race car and sound execution. We were able to demonstrate the speed and reliability of the Saleen S7R, and we brought home a very exciting win!”

Steve Saleen, president and CEO of Saleen, Inc. commented, “It was close. Having only 20 seconds between first and second meant the race was hard fought. I was pleased, but not at all surprised that the Saleen S7R did what it was created to do. I’m also pleased that we’ve teamed with Oreca as they are truly an exceptional racing organization.”

The Saleen ran the fastest lap in 2.17.025 minutes to finish ahead of the GT1 competition. It was thrilling when the Aston Martin and the Saleen continued to swap places during the race, only to have the Saleen S7R take the win.

Driver Quotes
Soheil Ayari:

“The car was strong all the way through and I am happy that it was a proper race against another very strong car. I am very happy as well to be teammates with Stephane in part of a new international story for Oreca. The Saleen is a very good car and Oreca has done a fantastic job, there were no problems at all for the whole race, no suspect noises, and everything was perfect. That meant I could just do my job, which was to pass the Aston. It was very quick on the straights and not easy to overtake so the team kept talking to me on the radio and eventually we found the best place for me to outbrake him. It was a fantastic fight, we pulled away a little right at the end, but it was only 20 seconds or so at the end of a six hour race — fantastic.”

“After a good rehearsal in the French Championship we knew we had arrived here with a fast car. To finish just 10 seconds ahead after a 6 hour race shows what a fantastic race this was.”

Stephane Ortelli:

“There was pressure all the way through from the Aston Martin but also the Corvettes were strong and they were difficult to lap because they were very fast on the straights. We lost the lead with the yellow and the speed was almost the same between the Saleen and the Aston Martin. It was a big fight to get it back but we showed the car is reliable and is competitive and it is also very good to drive! It is great to do this at Spa, which is always a very special place for me, today it is because it is my first race with Soheil and we have started with a win.”

Editors’ Note:
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About Saleen, Inc.
Since the company’s inception in 1984, Saleen has produced over 10,000 complete and EPA certified vehicles, more than any other specialty manufacturer. In addition, Saleen has equipped more than 600,000 vehicles worldwide, further emphasizing their commitment to excellence.

An eight-time Manufacturers’ Champion in GT sports car racing, Saleen’s corporate facilities in Irvine, California include: research, design, engineering and manufacturing capabilities, as well as the coating/paint division. Saleen also has another manufacturing facility in Troy, Michigan where the assembly and paint of the Ford GT supercar is accomplished. Additional Saleen manufacturing sites are located in Canada and Saudi Arabia. For more information please visit

Contact: PR Dept.
(949) 597-4900

SOURCE: Saleen, Inc.

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