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Jeff Smith remains confident of Eurotech Racing resurgence

Jeff Smith re-iterated his confidence heading into the new season of the British Touring Car Championship, as his Eurotech Racing outfit look to put an inconsistent season behind them when they prepare to roll out at the opening round with their brace of Honda Civic Type-Rs.

The Midlands-based team took the decision to upgrade their older models of Honda Civic into the latest, championship-winning technology last Autumn, coupled with an expansion of the existing engineering team and a move to a larger headquarters. The team also acquired a third TBL and the Toyota Avensis from Houseman Racing, though a busy off-season of negotiations with drivers for the third seat ultimately came to nothing, much to the frustration of the team.

However, an extensive testing schedule, both at circuits on the BTCC’s calendar such as Brands Hatch, Donington Park and Thruxton, coupled with a week at Parcmotor Castelloli in Spain alongside several other teams, has put the team in both a confident mood heading into next weekend’s series opener, but also in a good position to understand the new RML components.

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Speaking to at the official Season Launch on 22nd March, Jeff Smith explained the multitude of factors behind his team’s improved position and believes that both he and the car are functioning at a good standard ahead of Brands Hatch.

“It’s a combination of things” commented Smith.

“We’ve gone to the new Type-R [Honda] which is slicker in a straight line, there’s an engine update which has helped a little bit more. We’ve gone to the RML components and think we’ve done a better job of getting on top of that than some teams.”

“I think a chunk of it, for me personally, is where I’m at from a confidence point of view. We’ve done quite a lot of winter testing and I feel as confident as I was in 2013, so I’m back on top of my game as well.”

Smith also conceded that, despite a number of dates, he would have prefered for his outfit to have more running with their new machinery and shared an insight into the unpredictable nature of pre-season testing.

“I’d always like to do more testing, but then there have been things along the way that have stopped us going testing. We had a bigger test programme in Spain, but then we’ve had to curtail some of the tests due to issues with some of the updates. We’ve had to just hold back a little bit and gather our thoughts, then re-engineer and go to the next test.”

The third seat in the Eurotech garage had been the talk of the championships fanbase in recent weeks as several seats up and down the pitlane began to fill. Unfortunately, the team were unable to complete their expansion plans having overcome every other obstacle, with their third licence believed to have been loaned to Team.HARD as they expanded to a three-car outfit, though this remains unconfirmed.

Smith shared his disappointment at the end result, but resolved to return the team to the sharp end of the most competitive grid in the UK regardless of the issue.

“It was gutting for the team, to be honest, having worked so hard from September last year when we [formed] the intent to have that third car out there. We started talking to a number of drivers, any one of which, if we’d have sealed a deal, would have been right up there at the sharp end. I’ve just got to go and do it myself now!”

Looking ahead to the series opener, which gets underway around the Indy configuration of the Brands Hatch circuit over the opening weekend of April, Smith believes Eurotech’s winter mileage at the Kent venue will stand to benefit them, but also thinks finding the space in qualifying to clock a fast laptime may prove difficult, given the circuit’s short lap length.

“It’s going to be a busy old time at Brands trying to get a clear lap in! That’ll be the biggest thing in qualifying. Testing there went really well, we were quick there, so as long as I can string it all together when it counts, that’ll be crucial.”

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