The internal combustion engine is preferably a once through then out engine with an ignition device. The method involves operating the internal combustion engine in a region with lambda greater than 1 in the event of an overload existing on preferred components carrying exhaust gas. The existence of an overload of the components is detected by using the activity of a thermal component protection protective function. AN Independent claim is also included for the following: a controller for implementing the inventive method and an internal combustion engine with an inventive controller.
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