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Vasselon: Toyota Identified No. 8 Hybrid Issue On Red Flag Grid

Toyota’s WEC technical director outlines the hybrid issue that ended No. 8 entry’s race…

Photo: MPS Agency

Toyota Gazoo Racing identified the race-ending hybrid issue for its No. 8 Toyota GR010 Hybrid on the grid during the first red flag of the TotalEnergies 6 Hours of Spa, according to technical director Pascal Vasselon.

Sebastien Buemi came to a halt two times behind the safety car after the race was restarted following Miro Konopka’s crash in the second hour of Saturday’s FIA World Endurance Championship round.

After initially getting the car going again from a stop on the Kemmel Straight, Buemi came to a definitive halt at Campus.

The Swiss driver climbed out of the car after it suffered what was identified as a ‘terminal failure’ of the hybrid system.

According to Vasselon, the team discovered and started working on the issue when the car was sitting on the grid during the red flag.

“The hybrid system never restarted properly under the red flag,” he said.

“So we knew already we struggled to get away from the line and we knew that there was a severe problem.

“We tried to mitigate it, but in the end it was not possible. It’s clearly a serious issue, the first time I think we have a terminal hybrid problem.”

Vasselon explained that Buemi attempted to get the problem resolved using power cycles, which was labeled a regular procedure.

“We always reset the systems to try to clear the alarms,” he said.

“So the system was going into alarm, some alarms are real ones, some are connected to protections.

“We are always power cycling the system to see if it recovers, we’ve done it several times.

“In the end, it was a terminal problem, which we don’t know yet exactly what it is.”

Vasselon stated that Buemi tried a first unsuccessful power cycle while still on the grid, after which the car was notably slow to pull away.

A second power cycle followed when the Hypercar pulled over to the side of the Kemmel Straight, but on the third occasion, the car was retired.

Buemi was in the lead of the race at the time of the issue, having overtaken the pole-sitting No. 708 Glickenhaus 007 Pipo of Olivier Pla.

Pla was initially able to keep the two Toyotas at bay, but later began to struggle on his tires which allowed Buemi and the sister car driven by Mike Conway to pass the Frenchman into first and second position.

“I would say what we see is that Glickenhaus struggle a bit with tire consistencies in the dry,” Vasselon said.

“They are faster than us in a few laps, but they struggle with tire consistency.”

Prior to the second red flag, the No. 7 Toyota fell behind the leading LMP2 of Robin Frijns and was not able to catch the Dutchman again until track conditions became dryer, while Alpine and Glickenhaus were also closer.

“Normally you would expect cars which are light with a lot of downforce and low engine power to be faster in the wet,” Vasselon said.

“This is why at one point the LMP2s were faster than us, it’s totally logical: light car with more downforce and less engine.

“You cannot really use engine power because you are grip limited, so you value downforce.”

Daniel Lloyd contributed to this report

Davey Euwema is Sportscar365's European Editor. Based in The Netherlands, Euwema covers the FIA World Endurance Championship, European Le Mans Series and Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS, among other series.

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