Eurotech Racing continued their extensive winter testing programme with two days running in mixed conditions at Thruxton this week as the Midlands-based outfit prepare to start the 2016 British Touring Car Championship in a trio of brand-new Honda Civic Type-Rs.
The championship-winning outfit, which was bought and rebranded by Jeff Smith upon his return to the UK’s premier motorsport series last year, endured a challenging season with the older Honda Civic model last season, with their two main highlights coming courtesy of a 9th place finish in the final race at Donington Park for Martin Depper, and a second-fastest lap time in free practice at Knockhill for Smith.
The decision was taken to upgrade to a trio of the latest championship-winning Type-R machines, along with a brand-new headquarters, as the team continues it’s rebuild towards challenging for the championship it last won in 2013 with Andrew Jordan.
The team will also benefit this season from a data-sharing agreement with defending drivers champions, Honda Yuasa Racing. This, combined with the acquisition last year of former WSR, title-winning Team Manager, Marvin Humphries, alongside an experienced engineering lineup has provided Eurotech with a strong foundation to build upon this season.
Since the cars arrived from Team Dynamics in the early off-season, the team have undergone extensive testing, with dates at Donington Park, Brands Hatch and Thruxton coming in addition to a week at Parcmotor Castelloli in Spain alongside Honda, Speedworks and Dextra Racing. The team’s target is to steal a march on the rest of the field as the drivers and engineers work on a development curve with the brand-new RML components for this season.
Both drivers spoke to TouringCars.net at Thruxton and believe that, so far, the testing schedule has paid dividends for the team as they attempt to get their heads around the new parts.
“You’d have to say so, with all the new RML kits. It’s a big learning curve for everybody, so the plan was to get ahead of everyone else.” commented Smith.
“Three of the days were good, two of the days were wet – the spanish wine was okay! We did find some useful things, [there is] no pressure out there, you’ve got a week to pound round the track so it was good, it was definitely worthwhile.”
“We just flew back in the other week from Spain, which was all very good!” enthused team-mate Depper.
“Five days testing, all in one go, and we had a mix of weather conditions. It’s fantastic, the new kit we’re running, these RML bits and pieces, it’s really good – we can put them through the paces and find out what works and what doesn’t.”
Both drivers also admitted their focus is on moving straight to the sharp end of the grid, and both are confident of being able to match the best in the field for pace if they can hit the sweet spot with the cars development this year.
“My personal aim hasn’t changed.” explained Smith.
“I look at myself as being just as capable as any other guy in the pits, whether that’s Jason Plato, Gordon Shedden [or] Matt Neal. In my mind, there’s no reason I shouldn’t be up there with those guys and we managed to do that in 2013, so let’s get back to where we were then.”
“[We want to be] on the podium. And that’s no joke either!” agreed Depper.
“These cars, these Type-R’s, everybody knows the performance of them, and the cars have certainly got it in there. That’s the whole reason for this intensive testing that we’re doing, because we really do believe that 2016 is going to be a great year for Eurotech.”
The team certainly has all the ingredients for success this season, with the focus for many now switching to the only officially timed test of the off-season, which takes place at the Season Launch on 22nd March. It is due to be hosted once more at Donington Park.