Toyota Gazoo Racing is analysing the technical detail of Sébastien Ogier’s disastrous Rally Turkey weekend, but early indications are of a cylinder problem in the engine and a magnet issue in the transmission.
The six-time world champion was nine points clear at the top of the table when he started last week’s Marmaris-based event, but an inability to shift gears on Saturday gave way to a puncture on Sunday morning and terminal engine failure later the same day.
“The system we use for the gear shift is run by an electric motor,” technical director Tom Fowler explained. “The magnet is part of that motor and it’s the magnet that failed. It’s shattered.
“We think there’s a manufacturing defect with the magnet. We’re analysing it and doing some chemistry with it to see exactly why it shattered. It was well within its running limits. The motor was destined to fail from the moment it left the manufacturers.”
The Yaris’ engine has been sent back to Toyota Motorsport in Cologne, where the 1600cc motors are developed and built.
“The only thing we know at this moment is that cylinder one was not functioning,” added Fowler. “We had a look inside the engine when the car came back from the stages, we drove the camera around inside [the cylinder] and from this we determined number one is no longer functional.
“Until the engine has been disassembled and some very in-depth study made it’s very difficult to say what damage we see inside is as a result of the engine failing and what actually started it to fail.
“[The] engine [was] turning very fast at moment of failure, it looks like a complete mess. We don’t know what really happened at the beginning until you really spend some time on it and that’s happening in Cologne at the moment.”
Turkey was the first event Ogier has failed to finish since he crashed in Finland in 2017. His pointless round five means the loss of his championship lead. He now sits 18 points behind Toyota team-mate and Turkey winner Elfyn Evans with two rounds remaining.