Both Saleen S7-Rs of Graham Nash Motorsport (GNM) were in the points at yesterday's penultimate round of the FIA GT Championship. The two-car finish by the No7 and No8 Saleens - seventh and eighth respectively in the GT section - has definitely strengthened GNM's position in the Team Championship, now half-a-point behind Creation Autosportif in fourth, and a tantalising five-and-a-half points down on third-placed Care Racing, with one race to go.
Following on from a strong showing at Oschersleben and Estoril, the team is setting its sights on the season finale at Monza in two week's time.
Said Gordon Davies, GNM's team manager: "It has been a tough season for us - which has to be expected when you are competing in your first Championship. The fact that both cars were able to stay the course at Estoril at least demonstrates that all the hard work is beginning to pay off. Things started well for us again in Portugal, with the second free practice session on the Friday seeing talented Brazilian Tommy Erdos, in the No7 Saleen, putting in the fastest time of the day. Sadly when it came to qualification on the Saturday we really struggled with the set-up of the car in the first session, which meant that although Tommy was able to run second in the last qualifying session the No 7 still had to start from sixth on the grid, while the No 8 of Amorim, Ramos and guest driver Coimbra was down in 15th place.
"In the race itself, it was difficult for Tommy and Mike to make an impression on the leaders but it was not without incident as they managed to keep a consistent position to end in seventh overall. For Ni, Miguel and Antonio racing at home they looked set for a top four finish until the loss of a wheel on lap 59 and a visit to the pits for a replacement, however their persistence paid off and they went on to secure eighth place in the GT standings. These valuable points, two from the No7 Saleen and one from the No8, mean that third place in the FIA GT Team Championship is still very much a realistic prospect as we head to Monza for the final round of the 2003 season."