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Eurotech Racing continue to improve despite Thruxton challenges

Thruxton saw another weekend of steady progress for Eurotech Racing as the Midlands-based outfit look to return to the sharp end of the British Touring Car Championship grid on a regular basis, though Team Principal and driver Jeff Smith believes there was even more performance on the table around the 2.4 mile circuit.

The team consigned their best result in over a year to the history books in the opening contest in Hampshire, with both Smith and team-mate Martin Depper claiming fourth and fifth respectively amid a chaotic race that was eventually red-flagged five laps prematurely. The result for Depper was the best of his career in the series to date, whilst it was the closest Smith had come to adding to his podium tally since 2013, the year in which the team last won the championship.

The move to the latest Honda Civic Type R model has paid dividends thus far this season, with ten points finishes their reward from the opening nine contests. They head to the next round at Oulton Park placed seventh overall in the HiQ Teams Championship, already a total of 38 points ahead of their total at this stage last season.

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The team was also bouyed prior to the race weekend at Thruxton with the arrival of respected GT racer and former KX Academy member Daniel Lloyd, who claimed the Jack Sears Trophy honours on his first time out, despite having only run twice in the machinery prior to his first competitive session on the Saturday. In doing so, he became the only other driver than MG’s Ashley Sutton to take the class victory in the first three rounds of the new campaign.

The results are a partial realisation of the potential at Eurotech, a team that sought to reinvent itself after the Jordan family, it’s founders, moved on to pastures new at the end of 2014. Jeff Smith, who tasked himself with the ownership of the team moving forward, has successfully reinvented the outfit and put in place the framework for future success.

A strong engineering lineup sits at the heart of the operations, with experienced Team Manager, Marvin Humphries, one of the men who masterminded Colin Turkington’s dominance three seasons ago, whilst Smith’s race engineer, Adam Tanner, has been within the fold throughout the team’s successess. Combine this with a strong roster of mechanics and engineers, as well as a strong off-circuit team, and it is clear that Eurotech are not aiming to make up the numbers, but rather to build a sustainable formula for continued successs.

Reflecting on the weekend, Smith felt that there was more performance left to extract from the Honda in qualifying, but despite this he still qualified an improved seventh, just six tenths of a second behind pole-sitter Tom Ingram.

“I felt my performance in qualifying wasn’t as good as it could have been” he explained to “there was another three tenths left on the table,”

“On my first run I got blocked and lost three tenths, on the second run on new tyres I took too much of the kerb coming out of the Complex, lost three tenths and we’d have been a chunk further up.”

In the first contest, Smith was joined at the forefront of the action by Martin Depper, who once again backed up his self-proclaimed ability to race better than he qualifies by moving up through the pack to join his more experienced team-mate on the fringes of the top ten. When chaos ensued up front as a result of Matt Neal’s puncture, the duo were able to move effectively through the carnage to pick up their strongest finish in two years, with new addition Daniel Lloyd rounding out a triple points finish in 12th.

However, an off for Smith heading through Goodwood and a puncture for Depper in the second race meant that, after having pre-race designs on the podium, the pair were left at the rear end of the field, though Lloyd continued his impressive debut to finish seventh.

Smith revealed that the issues came about as a result of some setup tweaks on the Type R between the first and second races, which adversely affected the rear-end grip on the car and led to a noticeable drop in the driveability of the machine.

“We had a decent race one with P4” commented Smith.

“We changed the setup on the car [for race two], I didn’t think that drastically, but it made an absolutely massive difference. It was like driving a shopping trolley with the rears, going wherever it wanted to go. That’s what caught me out at Goodwood, the front end was on the tarmac but the back end was on the grass.”

“Race three we went back on the setup and it was absolutely mega. I probably took a little bit too long getting past Jake Hill, I should have made a more decisive move earlier on and I’d have been a few further up the grid.”

This season has also seen the addition of Smith to the MINI Challenge grid alongside Jo Polley and his son, Brett Smith. Whilst having obvious differences, the Mini is comparative in some aspects to NGTC machinery, something Smith feels has had a positive influence on his development as he keeps himself in regular racing form.

“That’s one of the main reasons that I did it. I had a go in one of the Minis at Snetterton last year, whilst it’s different to a touring car it’s very grippy like the touring car is on the front end and it just keeps you tuned and keeps your race craft up. It’s definitely helping.” he explained.

He also paid tribute to Lloyd on his first weekend within the team and pointed to the development curve that the young charger is making rapid progress on as he looks to help move the team to the sharp end of the timesheets.

“I know Dan’s quite disappointed in his performance overall, he’s driven lots of rear-wheel drive stuff for the last four or five years and nothing front-wheel drive, and to come to Thruxton and drive it as well as he has, I think he’s done a mega job.”

“I think people underestimate BTCC as well. They come in and think they’ll be straight up the sharp end. It’s so hard.”

The team join the circus heading to Cheshire next month [4th-5th June] for the next triple header of races around the Island configuration at Oulton Park.

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