Toyota and WRT Le Mans issues explained

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Toyota’s clean sweep of the podium at the recent Le Mans 24 Hours was almost sunk due to fuel supply issues experienced in both its cars. According to the driver of the #7 car, José María López, who spoke to the media after the race, both cars’ fuel pumps were becoming clogged by debris picked up in the fuel tanks.

When the cars came into refuel, the debris was displaced and the pumps would operate normally before starting to clog again. Stopping to change the pumps would have led to defeat, so Toyota’s engineers devised a workaround whereby the drivers would switch off the pumps manually when braking into corners, before switching them on again to accelerate.

The issue had already reared its head during the pre-Le Mans Monza WEC round, where the #8 car took more than 40 minutes to be repaired in the pits. Toyota believes the root cause is an issue with the fuel tank rather than the fuel supplied by Total.

The last lap hearbreak of the WRT team’s #41 Oreca LM P2 has also been explained by the team. Apparently, a short cuircuit in the electrical system caused a temporary shutdown of the ECU. On recovering the car from parc ferme after the race, the team’s mechanics found the engine fired up on at the first try and there was seemingly no damage to the engine or fuel system.

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Lawrence has been covering engineering subjects – with a focus on motorsport technology – since 2007 and has edited and contributed to a variety of international titles. Currently, he oversees Automotive Powertrain Technology and Professional Motorsport World magazines as editor.

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