The Balfe Motorsport team took to a cold Donington Park in Leicestershire at the end of last week to give its new Saleen S7R GT1 car a brief run before a winter rebuild in readiness for the 2006 FIA GT season.

The run was a chance for Shaun Balfe to get some mileage under his belt and allowed the team to get to grips with what is likely to be involved with running the car.

"It was basically a chance to see what we've got and where we stand with it before we get set for next year," said Balfe. "The lads are desperate to get the car stripped and give it a full rebuild ready for testing early next season. But we wanted to see what it was like at this point and it gave me a little bit of time in the car before getting down to more serious testing and development in the new year," he added.

Although it was not his first taste of GT1 machinery -- having driven a Saleen at the Petit Le Mans 10-hour race at Atlanta in 2001 - Balfe was happy with the day and confident of the move up to the top class in the FIA GT series next year.

"Everything felt comfortable in the car. There are obviously a number of things that we need to look at. We've always gone about things our own way and we know there are improvements that can be made here and there, mainly to make life easier for us to work on the car," he said.

"The difference in power and performance wasn't as big as I'd maybe expected it to be, compared to the last three years in the Mosler. When the track dried up and we put a set of slicks on it was really smooth and easy to drive, so it looks good for us initially, for sure," he added.

The team is now underway with a full rebuild of the car before a series of pre-season test at the start of 2006.