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Vasselon: Toyota ‘Needs to Get to the Bottom’ of Monza Issues

Toyota using remaining time until Le Mans to figure out technical issues experienced at Monza…

Photo: James Moy/Toyota

Toyota Gazoo Racing’s technical director has said that the factory team “needs to get to the bottom” of the problems that it encountered at the 6 Hours of Monza, including the fuel system issue that blighted its No. 8 Le Mans Hypercar.

Both Toyota GR010 Hybrids ran into trouble at round three of the FIA World Endurance Championship, which precedes next month’s 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Kamui Kobayashi, Mike Conway and Jose Maria Lopez claimed victory in their No. 7 Toyota, but not without a setback.

With two hours to go, race leader Kobayashi stopped at the left side of the track between the second Lesmo corner and Variante Ascari to perform a system reboot after his car “just shut down” with an error message appearing on the dashboard.

That episode briefly sent the No. 709 Glickenhaus SCG 007 into the lead, however Romain Dumas only led for a few corners before pitting for a change of brakes. After that, the No. 7 Toyota ran without major issues and went on to take its first win of the season.

The No. 8 Toyota of Sebastien Buemi, Brendon Hartley and Kazuki Nakajima battled a more persistent case of low fuel pressure, which contributed to it finishing 43 laps behind its sister car.

Lengthy pit stops were carried out as mechanics monitored and tried to fix the issue, with the longest garage visit taking around 50 minutes to replace the entire fuel system.

Vasselon indicated after the race that Toyota will use part of its time between Monza and Le Mans on August 21-22 to dissect the problems it encountered in Italy.

“We need to understand what is this fuel system issue,” he said.

“Because it could be related to temperature, but we have already run [trouble-free] at high temperatures including in Portimao, so it’s a bit more than that.

“We need to get to the bottom of this one, and the electronic glitch as well.”

According to Vasselon, Toyota was unsure of the reason for its No. 8 car’s lack of fuel pressure, although he suggested that it was not electronic like the No. 7 machine’s issue.

“It’s not exactly clear,” he said. “Then because of this problem we have had another issue: in what was done to review what was going on with the fuel system, one of the wheels has not been properly tightened.”

That caused hub damage which necessitated a change of the car’s front-left corner.

“This was kind of a side effect,” Vasselon noted. “The root cause of car No. 8’s issues are related to the fuel system.

“So car No. 8 was out of the game, and car No. 7 did very, very well with just one control unit glitch which needed a power cycle. After the power cycle, it was fine.”

The No. 7 Toyota also sustained a right-rear puncture, but this only occurred as Kobayashi entered the Parabolica on an in-lap, meaning no significant time was lost.

Toyota intends to perform rig testing between now and Le Mans to assess the problems it faced at Monza, and is also planning for a shakedown at Spa-Francorchamps in early August before heading to France for the longest race of the WEC campaign.

“It is better we had a day like this here in Monza rather than at Le Mans,” reflected Hartley, who continues to lead the championship alongside Buemi and Nakajima.

“That is the one race of the year that we really want to win.”

Daniel Lloyd is a UK-based reporter for Sportscar365, covering the FIA World Endurance Championship, GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS and the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, among other series.

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