Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship returnee Martin Depper says that he feels more confident ahead of his second season with Eurotech Racing, the Honda squad’s latest change being a switch to the TOCA engine for 2015.
Depper partnered 2013 champion Andrew Jordan in the family-run Eurotech outfit last season, collecting a best result of 12th place at Rockingham and securing a seat in the squad once again for 2015 alongside new Eurotech owner, Jeff Smith.
Improvements appeared to glimmer in the team’s latest test, held in mixed conditions at Donington Park during the BTCC’s season launch on Tuesday. Smith finished the day 13th, while Depper ended the four-hour test as top Honda in ninth – less than 0.7s from Jason Plato and Colin Turkington who ended the day at the head of the times.
“We’re back! I’m very much looking forward to the new season”, the enthusiastic Depper told The Checkered Flag during Tuesday’s media day at Donington.
“I’m currently fastest Honda out there, so you could say I’m a veteran now! It proves it’s all coming together now and, crucially, that our pace is improving.”
The Honda outfit’s new team owner, Smith, took the decision to replace the Neil Brown powerplant in favour of the series’ standard Swindon/TOCA unit for the coming season, despite a 0.6 bar boost increase for the former that he feels may not be to their advantage after struggles in 2014 led to the switch.
Smith himself said: “We’ve done a lot of development work over the winter; we’ve gone away from the Neil Brown engine to the NGTC engine, which you would think would be easy but really it’s a huge, huge task.
“There’s a lot of different things to change on that engine and a lot of effort from the guys, but we’re finally there.”
Depper said that developments appear to be heading in the right direction already, adding that there is plenty to be optimistic about for the pair ahead of the new season.
He continued: “Jeff has obviously taken over Eurotech and there are quite a few developments going on with the car as well, so it is very exciting for us.
“Obviously the biggest change is that we’ve got a different engine in it now. We’ve now got the TOCA-spec engine in the car, we’ve got some new engineers as well, so we’ll be trying a few different ideas this year.
“Some will work and I’m sure some won’t, so you just have to take the good with bad as it comes.”
A big change psychologically for the former Mini Challenge champion is an increase in confidence during the winter testing period with a year’s experience of the NGTC Honda Civic now under his belt, aiming to improve significantly having ended 2014 with several competitive outings.
“Although it seems slightly new, most of the guys are still around which is a good thing. We’re carrying on from where I left off last year and I’m able to build on that performance.
“My confidence continues to grow, so I’m looking to push forward this year.”