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WTCC NEWS 

Yokohama warns World Touring Car teams against aggressive set-ups in Portugal after Salzburgring tyre chaos

Rob Huff gets a puncture at SalzburgringYokohama Europe's motorsport manager Kazuyoshi Sekiguchi has warned World Touring Car Championship teams against running aggressive set-ups at Algarve this weekend, as an added measure to avoid a repeat of the multiple tyre failures suffered by front-wheel drive cars during the series' last meeting at the Salzburgring.

High temperatures and the Salzburgring's long Fahrerlager Kurve were key factors behind the dramas in Austria, which denied the RML factory Chevrolet team a likely a 1-2-3 finish in race two. Similar hot temperatures are forecast at the Circuit Algarve this weekend, prompting concern among several teams.

"We had eight cars suffer punctures in Salzburgring," Sekiguchi told AUTOSPORT. "We spoke with the teams, and we are just as disappointed as they are, but we knew it could happen. The characteristics of the circuit played a big part in the problems as it is a very tough track for front-wheel drive touring cars.

"I don't think in Portimao we will have these problems, but we will advise teams not too run too much camber or too low pressure."

While Yokohama will not modify its tyres before Portimao owing to time constraints and a pre-arranged agreement with the FIA not to change its tyre in-season, Sekiguchi admitted he would evaluate making modifications if the Salzburgring returned to next year's WTCC calendar.

"Our agreement with the WTCC to supply tyres ends this year, and we will then go into the tender process for the next three years," said Sekiguchi. "If we are chosen, and Salzburgring is again on the calendar, we may consider changing the tyre. But I don't think it would be a big change, because our current tyre provides a good level of competition between the front and rear-wheel drive cars."

Problems only materialised in the Austrian round's second race, when track temperatures reached in excess of 52 degrees. Sekiguchi believes a safety-car period in race one allowed tyres to cool and alleviated potential difficulties.

"In race one at Salzburgring nothing really happened, but there were safety cars," said Sekiguchi. "I think most of the teams gained some confidence going into race two. I think most teams didn't change the settings, but then there were no safety cars and the temperature was similar or perhaps higher than the very hot conditions we experienced in race one."

Problems affected all five Chevrolet runners and both Lukoil Racing SEATs. Arena's Fords escaped the failures.

"The Fords didn't have problems, perhaps because they were less aggressive with their set-up," said Sekiguchi, "but it's probably just a character of the Focus producing different tyre wear compared to the SEATs and Chevrolets."

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