If we pause for a moment and compare Eurotech Racing to the outfit Jeff Smith bought from Mike Jordan prior to the 2015 season, it’s scarcely the same animal.
The most obvious facelift is in the machinery, with Smith upgrading the team’s outdated Civic pairing to a hat-trick of the Honda Civic Type R machines that have gifted Gordon Shedden the last two British Touring Car Championship titles.
But the devil is in the detail. Factor in an RML control component upgrade, a brand new state of the art facility in the Midlands capable not only of sustaining a BTCC title push, but an extensive support package programme as well, and from a technical standpoint, with 2014 WSR title winning Team Manager Marvin Humphries and a roster of some of the paddock’s best engineers and mechanics on board, Eurotech’s signal has always been clear; midfield points finishes are not good enough.
“Everyone talks about WSR having an amazing workshop, which it is amazing, but having been to Jeff’s place, it’s quite apparent straightaway that he means business.” new recruit Jack Goff told TouringCars.net.
“The facilities are brilliant, the personnel there have all got experience, he’s got a really good thing going on there. And I’m in a really good place now to move forward and put a championship challenge together.”
Team Principal Smith also expanded into the MINI Challenge alongside son Brett and Jo Polley, using the similarities between the MINI JCW and an NGTC touring car to give himself a more consistent racing schedule during breaks between rounds. The net result was obvious, with Smith almost doubling his points tally from 2015.
Last season saw a partial realisation of the project’s potential; Jeff Smith and then-team mate Martin Depper capitalised on mayhem at Thruxton to score the team’s best finish in the post-Jordan era, with 4th and 5th in race one. Daniel Lloyd, who came on board starting with the triple header in Hampshire, went on to secure two front-row starts for the marque in an obvious display of the team’s competitiveness, given the right circumstances.
Jack Goff now sits in arguably the best machinery on the grid. Though WSR’s new-for-2017 engine from Neil Brown and the emerging Subaru Levorg GT look a strong challenge to the Type R’s supremacy, the fact remains that Goff, for the second season in succession, will start the campaign in a car that, in theory, has the potential to win the championship. It might not be a works Honda, but make no mistake – Eurotech aren’t leaving stones unturned in pursuit of performance.
His proven track record compliments the experience Smith already brings to the team, with his wealth of knowledge from stints at WSR and MG likely to bolster the data Eurotech gained across all ten circuits last campaign. Factor in the slight leveller of Dunlop’s new compound tyres, and the ingredients are there for a push, at least for the Independent’s title.
“We’ve got to look at winning the Independent’s championship but actually, if you look at the entry list, the Independent championship is just as difficult as the overall championship! Exclude the likes of Jason [Plato] and the two works Honda’s [Neal and Shedden] from the Independents and we’ve still got Tom Ingram, Mat Jackson, Adam Morgan. Yes, we’re going to go into it looking to do that, but I don’t think it’ll be any easy feat to do it.” explained Goff.
Prior to the announcement this morning [23rd January], Goff admitted business had been slow in securing a drive for the upcoming season. Eurotech and Goff opened talks a fortnight ago at the Autosport Show [12th-15th January], and from there putting a deal together proved relatively straightforward.
“To be honest, up until the Autosport Show we had not a lot really going on.” Goff admitted.
“Basically, I had a conversation with Jeff [Smith] on the Thursday, we got chatting about things – you never really can tell until the deal was done, can you?
“And then it would have been the early part of last week, we got the call to say ‘yep – it’s good to go’ basically and here we are now.
“It’s happened really, really quickly, it’s obviously a great opportunity for me, being in a car that’s capable [of winning the championship]. I’m feeling quite confident about it, it’s happened really quickly but we’ve got a good testing programme in place and hopefully we can hit the ground running at Brands Hatch.”
This season will also present Goff with his fifth different NGTC machine in as many seasons, as well as shifting back into a front-wheel drive car – but with a strong testing programme scheduled the 25-year old is anticipating a strong set of results this campaign.
“Every year it’s always been my ‘first year with the team’, ‘first year in the car’, last year was my first in rear-wheel drive. I’m going back to front-wheel drive now, which I’ve got to learn again a little bit. The car is a proven winner, so I’m feeling quite good about it.”
The team are yet to unveil their liveries for the upcoming season, with the official Season Launch scheduled for March 16th at Donington Park.