on March 1, 2009 by in Uncategorized, Comments (0)

Toyota scrambling to fix motor problems

LAS VEGAS (AP) — The president of Toyota Racing Development said he was embarrassed by a rash of engine problems that forced four motor changes at Las Vegas Motor Speedway this week.

Lee White said the engine issue, which first popped up last week at California, appeared to be related to lubricants and coolings in the motors that TRD builds at its Costa Mesa, California factory. The motors for Brian Vickers, Scott Speed, David Reutimann and Marcos Ambrose all had to be pulled after qualifying on Friday for Sunday’s Shelby 427 race. Vickers also had to switch motors last week after winning the pole in California, as did Michael Waltrip.

Kyle Busch, the pole-winner for this Sunday’s race, also changed a Toyota motor on Friday, but his was built by Joe Gibbs Racing and the issue was unrelated to the TRD problems.

White said TRD thought the issue was resolved after California, and was bothered that changes the company made didn’t work.

“We thought (the change) was the right direction,” White said. “I’m disturbed to say that the right direction apparently was the wrong direction. We came here and thought we had a handle on it. We didn’t. We made it worse.”

TRD is using different lubricants and coatings on the motors now in place for Sunday, and five additional engines were sent from Costa Mesa to be on hand in case additional switches were needed after Saturday’s practice session. All the TRD motors appeared to be free of the problem following a post-practice inspection late Saturday.

The problem appears within the first 75 miles (120 kilometers) of use, and once an engine passes that mark, it is good for the remainder of the race.

“We’re going to use a heavier lubrication and not try to squeeze every ounce of horsepower out of them,” said White, who estimated the difference will be between four and five horsepower.

“Four or five horsepower is not insignificant in this league. No driver in the world would give it up willingly. But every team … needs to get to the end. Our goal is to give them the best shot.”