Engine issues, grid penalties stack up for Toro Rosso at Interlagos

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Toro Rosso’s hopes of improving its recent form in Formula 1 took a major hit on Friday during practice for the Brazilian Grand Prix as both Pierre Gasly and Brendon Hartley were sidelined by engine issues during the day.

The FIA confirmed on Friday that Gasly and Hartley would both have to serve 10-place grid penalties after taking new elements for their Renault power units following failures in Mexico.

To add insult to injury, Hartley’s car ground to a halt after he’d completed just two laps, leaving the New Zealander stranded in the infield until the end of the session.

Gasly suffered an MGU-H failure on his power unit that meant he could manage just five laps in total in FP1, as well as triggering an additional 15-place grid penalty to take his total drop to 25 at Interlagos.

“This morning, of course, was not great for us with the engine issue. I had only one timed lap and Brendon none, so we didn’t learn much – for me about the track and for the rest of the team about the car and setup,” Hartley said.

“It wasn’t ideal. I managed to do many laps in FP2 which was good (54 total), a short run on softs and super softs, and then long runs on the second part of the session so I think it was really good.

“We finally could seize the potential of the car and work towards qualifying and the race on Sunday. At least we have many things to analyze tonight and to work and improve on for tomorrow.”

Toro Rosso chief race engineer Jonathan Eddolls added: “Obviously it was a very difficult FP1 for the team again, we came in knowing we would need to take some engine penalties for MGU-Hs, which we did.

“Unfortunately, the new MGU-H on Pierre’s car failed early on while the issue on the other car looked more catastrophic than it was. It was something quite simple in the engine, where it smoked badly which everyone saw but we were able to fix it with no further issues.

“Both cars went out pretty much at the start of FP2, so the mechanics did a fantastic job, given there was a complete engine swap on one and an engine strip and rebuild on the other, so really well done to get them out.”

Toro Rosso has scored just one point in the last three races, courtesy of the now-dropped Daniil Kvyat at the United States Grand Prix.

Supercross: Talon Hawkins to debut in Houston in relief of Jalek Swoll

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Talon Hawkins, 19, will make his Monster Energy Supercross debut on a 250 this week in Houston, Texas as a fill-in rider for Jalek Swoll.

During the Anaheim 2 weekend, the Rockstar Energy Husqvarna team announced Swoll underwent successful surgery to repair a broken arm suffered in a practice crash.

That same weekend, Hawkins made some noise. He took the lead from teammate Casey Cohran on Lap 2 of the 250 SX Futures Main and led for three laps before he was overtaken by eventual winner Daxton Bennick. Cochran also got around him to push Hawkins to third.

This will not be Hawkins SuperMotocross professional debut, however; he made three Lucas Oil Pro Motocross starts last year with results of 19th at Spring Creek in Millville, Minnesota, 27th at Ironman in Crawfordsville, Indiana and a best finish of 17th in the season finale at Fox Raceway in Pala, California.

Hawkins also has a top-10 finish in the 125 All-Star division at Pala in 2019 riding a Husqvarna.

Speaking with RacerXOnline.com before the Loretta Lynn Amateur Nationals, Hawkins predicted his future with Husqvarna would come down to how he performed in that race.

“It all just comes down to how I perform at Loretta’s,” Hawkins said. “Say I do really well, I get a top three in both classes and do a pretty solid job, I would like to go pro and just kind of finish out the rest of the series. But there’s also the option of waiting a little bit longer, going back out to [Aldon] Baker’s [Factory] or going anywhere and training, and just being prepared. I’m also open to that too. Honestly, it’s whatever the team wants. Whatever we think is the best option is what we’re going to go with. So, I don’t really have a plan right now, just looking into the future.”

Hawkins finished third overall in the 125 B/C and Schoolboy divisions at the Loretta Lynn Amateur Nationals.