There was early drama at Sydney Motorsport Park ahead of this weekend’s Yokohama World Time Attack Challenge 2017 as a number of competitors’ struck trouble.
The biggest casualty was Chris Alexander, last year’s Pro-Am class third place getter, whose hopes of a solid result in 2017 went up in smoke.
A fire in the Nissan GTR R32 left the car badly damaged and the team’s weekend over, though a devastated Alexander was able to clamber free.
A second fire, this one in the engine bay for Paul McKinnon’s Porsche 944 Turbo, conspired to end his weekend too.
The black Porsche trailed a plume of smoke before returning to pit lane, with flames licking the underside of the bonnet.
Indications were a cracked block had triggered the fire, with tell-tale oil trails through the engine bay enough to see the car rolled onto the trailer.
A wastegate pipe worked its way loose for Berry Polovic, forcing him to park the Mitsubishi Evo 8.
The errant pipe came into contact with an oil hose, which it quickly burned through, making for a messy fix for the team.
None the less, it ended the day hard at work repairing the car in readiness for tomorrow’s first session.
Also striking problems, Matt Longhurst received a tow back into pit lane early in the afternoon.
After an intense two weeks which have seen the Integrated Motorsport Nissan R34 GTR undergo a complete rebuild, Longhurst found himself rolling to a halt out on track with no ignition.
Back in the pit lane the problem proved to be nothing more than a CDI, which was quickly replaced. To cover its bases, another is being flown in from the squad’s headquarters in Adelaide this evening.
A suspected blown head gasket in the Nissan GTR R32 of Daniel Burton saw the team stripping the engine in a bid to get the car back on track.
The problem, however, was more serious, with a crack found in the head.
Unwilling to concede defeat, the team has embarked on a five-hour round trip to Canberra to source a replacement that will see them back on track tomorrow.
In Clubsprint Class, Jamal Assad spent much of the afternoon parked in pit lane after finding a hole in the front transfer box in his Evolution Racing Spares Mitsubishi Evo 5.
The crew quickly set to work, dropping the old box out before replacing it.
Further up pitlane, the Nissan R34 GTR of John Olasau also faced dramas when he suffered no oil pressure.
Luckily caught on idle, the team believes the problem related to a blocked filter rather, and is confident of having Olasau and the GTR on track for Friday morning.
The 2017 World Time Attack Challenge gets underway on Friday, with gates opening at 8:00 before the first Clubsprint Class session of the day at 8:30.
Track action continues throughout the day, with practice and qualifying for the Honeywell Garrett Drifting Challenge rounding out proceedings tomorrow evening.
Tickets are available at the gate from $30 or pre-purchased from Ticketek for $20 or from tickets.worldtimeattack.com