Three Toyota crews take penalties for engine changes
Three Toyota GT500 cars have had to take fresh engines for this weekend's Autopolis SUPER GT round, and will therefore receive stop-and-go penalties during Sunday's race.
Only two of the six GR Supras made it to the finish in last month's Sugo race, with the #19 Racing Project Bandoh, #38 Cerumo and #14 Rookie Racing cars all retiring due to mechanical issues, while the #37 TOM'S car was eliminated late on following contact with the #39 SARD Supra.
Motorsport.com reported last week that the #37 and #38 Toyotas were set to take fresh engines for Autopolis following those problems, and a bulletin released on Friday evening confirmed both cars, as well as the #14 Supra, indeed have taken their third power units of the season.
SUPER GT rules dictate GT500 crews can only use two engines per season, and Toyota had already introduced a second engine for all six of its cars at Sugo.
It means all three crews - Ryo Hirakawa/Sacha Fenestraz (#37), Yuji Tachikawa/Hiroaki Ishiura (#38) and Kazuya Oshima/Kenta Yamashita (#14) - will have to serve five-second stop-and-go penalties during the race.
The #19 Bandoh machine's Sugo retirement was caused by a fuel leak, but the #38 and #14 cars both suffered turbo failure as a result of debris getting stuck in the air intake system.
Takahiro Sasaki, boss of TCD's engine department, said this issue affected all six Supras to some extent and that steps have been taken to prevent a repeat of the problems at Autopolis.
"There was more debris than we anticipated [at Sugo] and this meant the air filters got clogged, and this caused problems with the turbo and engine," Sasaki told Motorsport.com's Japanese edition. "This affected all Supras.
"Given that we ran at Sugo without issues in the Lexus LC and RC F era, it seems the issue is on the bodywork side, so [Kazumoto] Yuasa [TCD head of car development] has taken countermeasures."
As well as the three Toyotas, also facing a stop-and-go penalty in Sunday's race is the #360 Tomei Sports Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3, which has had to take a fresh chassis for Autopolis. The team was disqualified from the last race at Sugo for ignoring a pitstop infraction penalty.
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