The master TRS engine builder: 900,000 racing km without failure
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The Northern Hemisphere’s motor racing scene is in semi-hibernation and many drivers, engineers and mechanics from the lower formulae will be travelling to New Zealand for the 2019 Toyota Racing Series.
Over its 14 seasons, this series has established itself as a training ground not only for Kiwi drivers but those aspiring to Formula 1 and other international racing.
At last count, 12 TRS competitors have gone on to drive for, or be a part of, Formula 1. And more than 70 others have progressed to racing in other parts of the world in all manner of cars.
It is remarkable that in all of those TRS seasons there has not been a single engine failure related to build or component failure, despite the best efforts of some of those young chargers as they came to grips with the challenging and competitive racing.
The TRS series of FT chassis have, since the beginning, used the 2ZZ-GE engine, historically used in the Celica and Corolla range. Every one of those engines has been modified for racing and hand-built by one person.
David Gouk, master engine builder. Photo / Supplied
Since the firm of Lynn Rogers Automotive was contracted to develop the original TRS engine, some 60 examples have been used with more than 300 scheduled service rebuilds completed. Every one of those engines, every piston, nut and pulley has been through the hands of David Gouk.
The race-prepared engine is still the basic engine unit but with a different oil delivery and dry sump system, electronic mapping and other modifications that bring the power up from the original road-going 130kW to 160kW. This enables it to be installed in the low-slung, single-seater race cars.
Gouk estimates with each engine completing a maximum of 3000km a season, there have been 900,000 racing km without a failure.
All of those kilometres have been at the hands of some aggressive drivers whose mind-set is to race from the first time the engines are fired up and who rarely show sympathy for the hundreds of parts furiously spinning, bouncing and turning behind their heads at some 8000 rpm, and occasionally over as they try to extract the maximum performance available.
Of course some ancillary parts have caused issues, oil pumps, hydraulics and the like, but the engines have raced on regardless. After seven years of working with Lynn Rogers, then four contracted to Toyota Racing, in 2015 Gouk opened David Gouk Race Engines, in Wiri, Auckland.
Sitting at one end of Gouk’s shop is the dynamometer where each engine is put through a rigorous test programme before being installed in the TRS FT50 chassis to be used by the next aspiring Lance Stroll, Lando Norris or Brendon Hartley.
The sign above the door says “Excellence is expected” and Gouk says: “That is exactly what each and every engine has achieved.”
At some point a new engine will inevitably be introduced to the TRS. Gouk, a self-confessed perfectionist, is looking forward to the challenge of developing whatever comes along.