Welcome to Team ILR...

Team ILR will have a two rider presence at the 2018 Ulster Grand Prix when Ian Lougher returns to the event in August to partner Joey Thompson in the Supertwin class on the Team ILR/Mark Coverdale Patons

Ian is one of the most successful riders ever around the historic Dundrod circuit having notched up 18 race wins, second only to Joey Dunlop in the all-time list of winners, and he is also just one podium placing behind Dunlop on 43. 
He took his first Ulster GP win in 1998 in the opening 250cc race, although his first podium was six years previously in the 1992 125cc race, a class he went on to win four times as well as tasting victory over the following years in the Superbike, Superstock/Production, Supersport and 250cc classes. 

Only 11 riders have claimed three or more victories at Dundrod in one day and Lougher has the distinction of claiming a double hat-trick of race wins in 2002 and 2005 respectively. 
And it's not the only type of treble he has enjoyed at Dundrod, having picked up the Man of the Meeting Award on three occasions in 2002, 2003 and 2005. 

In the 2002 Superbike race, Ian broke the existing lap record on the fourth lap with a speed of 127.82 mph to finally better Tom Herron's 127.63mph lap at the 1978 North-West 200, thereby elevating the Ulster Grand Prix to the status of being the Fastest Road Race in the British Isles at that time. 
Subsequentlly, he went on to become a member of the '130mph plus' Club with a lap of 130.873mph in the 2012 Superstock race, and his 125cc race record of 110.719mph on the Barnes/Jackson Racing 125 Honda in 2009 still stands as the benchmark for this class. 

So revered is Ian's name at Dundrod that, in 2009 the organisers of the Ulster GP committee bestowed the ultimate road racing honour upon him by announcing that they were re-naming the blisteringly fast Budore Corner in recognition of his racing achievements, and since then this famous section of the 7.4 miles circuit has been known as Lougher's. 

The Welshman, who made Northern Ireland his home in 2001, last raced at Dundrod in 2013 where he won the Ultra-Lightweight race from Christian Elkin and Paul Jordan, and shortly afterwards he announced his retirement from 'full-time racing'. 
He has however continued to compete in carefully selected races and has continued to support 'The Ulster' by bringing Team ILR to the event when possible and running riders with the calibre of Horst Saiger and of course Joey Thompson. 

Thompson will be making his second appearance at Dundrod after a sensational debut last year when he romped to victory in the Dundrod 150 National race on the Thursday of UGP Bike Week, and Saturday race day saw him podium Adrian Nettleship's 125 Honda when he scored a brilliant third place in the Ultra-Lightweight race. 

He then had an impressive outing in the first Supersport encounter to come from 20th on the grid and bring the Team ILR/Thompsons ZX-6 home in 12th place, and he went two places better in the second race where, but for a false neutral at Leathemstown and having to take to the grass, he could have been higher placed. 

His performances that day deservedly clinched him the meeting's Best Newcomer Award, the second time in two years that Team ILR has achieved this, with Saiger claiming it in 2015. 

As well as the Supertwin entry, Joey will compete in the Supersport and 250cc classes at Dundrod. 


Brands Hatch hosted the latest round of the 2018 British Superbike Championship season and, as in the previous outing at Knockhill, Team ILR had Sam Laffins in action in the Hel Performance British Motostar Championship (Standard Class) with Mark Conlin again being supported by the team in the Dickies British Supersport Championship, as regular Supersport campaigner Robert Kennedy continues to recover from his Snetterton crash in June. 

Hel British Motostar Championship
On the popular GP circuit, Laffins struggled in practice and qualifying with his cause not helped by a crash in the first session, and as such he started the first of the weekend's two races towards the back of the grid. 
At the conclusion of the opening lap he was outside the points and with 6 of the 12 laps completed, Sam was in the thick of a three rider dice for 14th and the last championship point with a queue of riders forming behind him. 

However red flags were shown on the 10th lap to bring the race to an early conclusion with Laffins finishing in 15th. 

Race Two again saw Sam battling for the lower championship points and in a five rider scrap that went right to the flag, the Dromara rider eventually claimed three more championship points with a battling 13th, just 0.073s behind 12th place man Jack Hart. 

Dickies British Supersport Championship
On an unfamiliar circuit, Belfast rider Conlin also found practice and qualifying tough going on Stanley Watson's Magic Bullet R6 Yamaha, and he finished the sessions at the lower end of the timings.
Saturday's Sprint race soon became a lonely affair for Mark, finishing 20th, two seconds clear of the next rider Robert Childs.
Sunday's Feature race was a similar story for Conlin, although he had to work harder to fend off the challenge of Mark Clayton and Mark Piper on his way to claiming 17th place, a repeat of his best placing in the previous round at Knockhill.

The action moves to Thruxton in two weeks time.

Team ILR owner/manager Ian Lougher:
"Brands started with a customary crash from Sam as he continues to learn his chosen sport, so it was once again a race against time for Team ILR to get the bike ready in time for Free Practice 2.
Obviously the crash knocked his confidence but as the weekend went on he bettered his times and brought his Honda home in a fine 13th position in Race 2.

Mark Conlin too hasn't seen any of the BSB tracks before so it's a case of track time and slowly improving, which he did bringing his R6 home in 17th position and knocking almost a second off his times."

Sam Laffins
"We had a bad start to the weekend with my crash in the first session but the team did brilliantly to get the bike ready for the next session.
Qualifying didn't go to plan and I ended up starting the first race well down the grid meaning I had a lot to do, I was disappointed with my first result but felt better after the second race where I felt I gave a better account of myself.
This season has been another big learning curve for me but with Ian Lougher and the team behind me I am continuing to learn and grow as a rider.
Thanks to everyone in the team, my mechanic Willie, and all my sponsors."

Mark Conlin
"Brands Hatch was a new circuit for me, but with Ian and Team ILR I picked up valuable tips not only on the circuit, but about my general riding and bike set-up.
I have really enjoyed my last two wild-card outings with the team and they can only stand me in good stead for the future.
Big thanks to Ian Lougher and Asa at Team ILR and my mechanics Grahame and Jamie for all their hard work.
Also big thanks to Stanley Watson, Gilnahirk Tyres, Kilmore Farms and all my sponsors who make this possible, and to my family and friends for their support." 


Team ILR and Joey Thompson had a solid Southern 100 over the Billown Circuit in what was a return to action for the young Yorkshire 
rider since the Post-TT meeting over the same course in June. 

Joey opened his account at The Friendly Races with a secure second place ride on the Team ILR/Thompsons ZX-6 in the 600 class in Tuesday evening's Corlett's Trophies 600/1000cc race. 
He followed this up on Wednesday evening with a fine ride in the first of the meeting's two Supertwin races. Ivan Lintin set a fast pace from the start and won by a healthy margin from James Cowton with Joey promoted to third after Adam McLean was penalised by 10 seconds for overtaking the Team ILR/Mark Coverdale S1-R Paton under yellow flags on the sixth and final lap. 

Joey's evening ended in disappointment with a retirement from the Radcliffe Butchers 600 Race but he bounced back the next day with a good ride in the S & S Motors 600cc Race where he finished sixth having just been pipped for fifth by .039s by Michael Evans. 

The second Supertwins race was a cracking affair with the result in doubt right up to the chequered flag. 
After a race long dice, just over half a second separated eventual winner Adam McLean, second placed James Cowton with Joey in third having set a new Supertwins lap record of 104.97mph on his last lap.

Team ILR owner-manager Ian Lougher
"Joey hadn't ridden a bike for a month and it showed in practice I think, he admitted he felt a little rusty and took a couple of sessions to get up to speed. 
However when the races got underway with some excellent starts he was straight on the pace and two 3rd places on Mark Coverdale's 650 Paton plus the Supertwin lap record was no mean feat. 

On his Team ILR/Thompsons ZX6 Joey had a good couple of outings but he felt the edge had gone off the engine and it lacked real pulling power, but he managed a 2nd and a 6th nonetheless.
In the last race of the meeting and the last 600 event, he was lying in a great 3rd position, but unfortunately the race was to come to a tragic end with Joey extremely lucky not to be involved in the four bike crash which claimed the life of James Cowton and left Ivan Linton critically injured. 

From all at Team ILR we would like to pass on our thoughts and condolences to the families and friends of all those involved at this harrowing time." 

Joey Thompson
"To reflect on the Southern 100 week, words can't describe the way things went. 
We had a strong week on both bikes with a few mechanical issues which set us back, but as a team we worked really well and made things happen with 3 podiums and an outright Supertwin lap record. 
None of this would happen if it wasn't for my dad John Thompson, all at Team ILR, Mark Coverdale and all my personal sponsors friends and family. 
I am glad to come away in one piece and enjoyed my week's racing. 
My thoughts are with all James' family and my fingers are crossed for Ivan. 
JT x 


Southern 100 Team Announcement

Team ILR are pleased to announce that they have been joined at the Southern 100 Road Races over the Billown circuit on the Isle of Man, by well-known female racer Maria Costello.
The first woman ever to claim a podium finish in a race around the Isle of Man TT course, Costello will pilot the second Mark Coverdale Paton alongside regular teamster Joey Thompson in the Supertwins races.

The Coverdale Patons have proven to be a potent weapon in their outings so far this season.

At the North-West 200 its sheer speed in a straight line raised more than a few eyebrows as Thompson scored two well- deserved third place podiums.

Two weeks later at the Isle of Man TT races, Joey and Team ILR owner-manager Ian Lougher registered two Top 6 finishes with fifth and sixth respectively.

Thompson then took the Paton to victory at the traditional Post-TT races over the Billown circuit when he scored a dominant win in the Radcliffe Butchers 250/650cc race.

Monday evening practice at the Southern 100 has already seen Joey on the pace in 4th, and on Tuesday evening he finished second in the 600 class of the 1000cc race.

The action continues on Wednesday and Thursday. 


The Isle of Man TT has concluded for another year and Team ILR arrived on the island two weeks ago with perfect blend of youth and experience, with the young highly rated Joey Thompson again having 10 times TT winner Ian Lougher in his corner.
And it proved to be a very busy and eventful TT for both riders with Lougher entered in four races and his young protege down for three events.

Ian was again at the forefront of the challenge from the Suter company after their one year TT hiatus last year with the exciting two stroke 'Suter 500', and he renewed his links with TEAM MIRAI in the TT Zero race. Joey meanwhile was entered in the two Supersport TT's, with both riders on Patons for the Lightweight TT.

Practice week got off to a good start with Thompson lapping at over 117mph on the ZX-6 and Lougher settling in on the Suter. The remainder of the week saw Joey steadily build on every outing on the Kawasaki and Paton, with Ian using the notoriously limited practice time to mainly work on a good setting on the Suter and the conclusion of practice saw both riders reasonably happy with their week's work.

First up was the Superbike TT and it proved to be a very challenging one for Lougher who came to the start line heavily laden with flu. Ian managed the first two laps but at the first pit-stop his condition then worsened and the combination of this and a nasty 'moment' on the third lap, as well as actually being sick on the bike, convinced him to wisely call it a day.
A disappointing conclusion to the race, but a decision to retire that everyone was 100% supportive of with safety being paramount.

Monday arrived with Lougher 'slowly improving' and Thompson going to the line for the first Supersport TT. Joey started with an opening lap of 121.11mph to slot into 24th and as they stopped for their pit-stop he was up one place with a lap of 121.65mph.
Lap three saw Thompson push for a place in the Top 20 as he went on to his last circuit attempting to chase down Craig Neve.
However it was a big task, but he still finished in an excellent 21st with an impressive 122.76mph being his fastest lap.

Wednesday was a busy day for the team with three races on the cards.
After a disappointing start in which Joey (Supersport Race 2) and Ian (TT Zero) were retirements it was on to the Lightweight TT and hopes were high of a good result on the Team ILR/Mark Coverdale Patons
The first of the four laps concluded with Lougher in ninth and Joey two places back and a lap later as they pitted both riders had improved by one place and were riding well. Thompson began to up the ante on the third lap as he slotted into 6th with Lougher just one place back but his efforts were being badly hampered by a loose visor. 
The retirement of Peter Hickman on the last lap saw Joey secure in 5th, but the nail-biting attention for the team was turning to the battle between Ian and Michael Sweeney for 6th which raged throughout the last lap with Ian pulling out the stops over his favourite Mountain Section to claim the final Top 6 place.
Two great results for the riders and the team, and a particularly good day for Paton with five riders in the first six home.

And so to the Blue Riband Senior TT, a race that had now taken on extra significance for the Suter team, something that wasn't lost on Ian and he didn't disappoint.
He opened with a steady 122.88mph lap to slot into 31st position and at the first pit-stop a lap later he had moved up to 28th. With the exception of the third lap following the pit-stop, Lougher was lapping consistently in the 122's and as he pitted at the end of the fourth lap he was in 26th place and a lap later he had gained four places to move into 22nd.
Ian saved the best to last to lap at over 124mph, his own personal best two-stroke lap, and the all-time second best two-stroke lap around the Mountain Course, to finish just one place outside the Top 20.

The following day after the TT, Joey then competed in the Post TT Road Races at the Billown circuit and had a successful outing with third in the 600cc race and a win in the 250/650cc race where he soon took the lead and was never headed to secure his and Paton's first win at the circuit.

In closing the thoughts of everyone at Team ILR are with the families and friends of Dan Kneen and Adam Lyon, and our best wishes go to all the injured riders and we wish them a speedy recovery.

Team ILR
owner-manager Ian Lougher:
"The TT is always very tiring and the 2018 TT was no different, especially when our young protege Joey Thompson caught the flu at the beginning of practice week then I got it just when the racing started...bad timing or what!!
So for me the first superbike race was a disaster, with no energy I just couldn't hold on and felt drained, and after 3 laps completed I retired to the pits.
Joey had a great race in the Supersport race on the Team ILR/Thompsons ZX6 Kawasaki finishing 21st, but more importantly lapping at 122.7 mph on lap four, which is a great step forward in only his second visit to the Isle of Man.
In the Lightweight race he went even better on the Mark Coverdale backed Paton machine, finishing in a brilliant 5th place and lapping at 117.5 mph.

For myself I had an interesting race on the Paton to say the least...going off the line the pit limiter stuck on which meant I lost a couple of seconds, and with Peter Hickman starting right behind me that was a real problem I didn't need.
In the pit stop we couldn't get the fuel cap back on which cost me around 10 seconds extra.
But worse was to come when my visor came loose after the pit stop which meant I had to ride the last 2 laps holding it on and squinting through the result of the massive draft coming into my eyes.
So after all this I was quite satisfied I could bring it home for a 6th place finish and help Paton get 5 of the their machines in the top 6.

For the Senior race Suter gave me a much revised machine, working on changes to the suspension and fueling, but the biggest gain was an altered riding position which helped me feel a bit more comfortable on the Manx roads.
Suter and Team ILR worked hard together for the entire fortnight so it was pleasing I could finish the race in 21st position for them.
There is massive potential in the bike still but it's not an easy ride by any means, but I do think I came up short of my planned 127 mph lap as I only managed just under 125 mph.
But anyway it was never going to be easy on a proper racing prototype fuel injected two stroke machine.
I have so much admiration for all the guys at Suter Industries, they never give up and are always trying to be different.

TEAM MIRAI Racing prepared a beautiful electric bike in a Honda Moto 3 chassis for me to race, it handled great and I really enjoyed riding it, it was quite light and small, but on its second practice lap it almost caught fire at Quarry Bends, so was damaged quite badly, but luckily the rival Nottingham University's team came to our rescue and lent us some batteries, but sadly I lost power in the race and retired at Lambfell.

So that's it for this year, our thoughts go out to the families of lost and injured riders who we'll never forget.
Thank you to all the marshal's and officials who gave up their time to make it all happen."

Joey Thompson
"The TT was great, we again had a lack of track time which put us on the back foot but I am learning fast and got some great lap times, especially on the Team ILR/Thompsons ZX6 Kawasaki.
I was pleased with fifth on the Team ILR/Mark Coverdale Paton in the Lightweight TT and to have 5 Patons in the Top 6 was brilliant.
I loved every second of it and can't thank all the team, my dad and sponsors enough.
My thoughts are with the families of the riders who lost their lives and my best wishes go to those who were injured."


He may have been a newcomer at last year's North-West 200, but this year Team ILR's Joey Thompson was a newcomer to the podium as he claimed third place in both Supertwin races on the immaculate Team ILR/Mark Coverdale Paton. The Paton has generated enormous interest since it was announced that Thompson would be riding it in 2018, and after the North-West 200 that interest has trebled.

Tuesday practice was spent getting accustomed to the bike and trying a few settings with Joey still managing to post the fourth quickest time. The speed of the Paton was obvious with Joey particularly quick in the first two speed sectors through the very fast sections to Ballysally Roundabout and the Metropole, he was also joint quickest through the speed trap on the high speed run to University.

Thompson again finished 4th in Thursday's second qualifying session, but at over seven seconds quicker it was clear everything was falling nicely into place. Again he posted the joint fastest speed through the speed trap and he was fastest through the second sector to Metropole Corner.

A delay to racing during the Thursday evening programme meant that it was after 8pm and a lot cooler when the Supertwins took to the track with a group of six riders including Joey going clear.
Using the speed of the Paton to good effect, Thompson soon opened up a sizeable gap and at one point it looked as though he had made a break for it, but it wasn't to be and the chasing pack of Jeremy McWilliams, Martin Jessopp, James Cowton and Adam McLean were on his tail at the Juniper Chicane and across the start-finish line.

Thompson led going on to the last lap but at the exit of the Mill Road roundabout he was down to third. However, by University he was back in front but the Yeovil man took the lead at Ballysally Roundabout only for Joey to fight back and doggedly fend off the slipstream challenge of Jessopp into Mather's Chicane.
As they exited the Metropole, Jessopp re-took the lead and held on along the coast road for the win.
His cause was helped behind as Joey took to the grass at the Juniper chicane and almost scuppered his entire efforts, thankfully he recovered and held on for a superb third.

Saturday's second race again saw Joey take the race to his more established and experienced rivals.
Stung by comments querying the legality and cost of his Paton S1R, about which the team were compelled to release a statement to put the record straight, Thompson was determined to prove a point.

The four lap race developed into a battle between Thompson, James Cowton and Jeremy McWilliams, with fancied runners Adam McLean and Martin Jessopp retiring. At the end of the second lap it looked as though Joey had lost out as he dropped back by almost two seconds, but using the speed of the Paton he was on the tails of McWilliams and Cowton at University. Joey and the team had done their homework and this enabled him to learn from the first race on Thursday evening.

At the Juniper Chicane on Lap 3 Joey went in a bit quick and again lost time, but as in the previous lap he was soon with the leaders and swept past them into University and was executing his race plan to perfection.
It was now or never for Thompson as he held the lead through Ballysally Roundabout and this time superbly made it stick through the crucial Metropole and Black Hill sections.
He pulled away on the coast road and it looked as though he had done enough for his first North-West 200 win, but Joey again made a small error at Juniper and lost the drive and Cowton saw his chance and went through on the inside as Joey went over the kerb again losing momentum allowing McWilliams through, and they crossed the line in that order.

The fact Joey was disappointed with third in what is only his second North-West 200, is an indication of his talent and how far he has come in such a short space of time with Ian Lougher and the team in his corner.

Amidst all the excitement of his exploits in the Supertwin class, Joey also registered two solid 11th place finishes in both Supersport races, results that were equally impressive in their own right.
16th overall in qualifying he rode strongly to work his way up to 12th on the third lap of Thursday evening's first encounter and settle in behind Dan Kneen and Sam West.
Joey maintained his position to the flag, but a 10 second penalty imposed on West for a straight ride through at Mill Road Roundabout meant that Joey was promoted one place in the final result.

Saturday's race saw Joey with Ian Hutchinson in the early stages before moving clear of his fellow Yorkshireman on the third lap to finish in a trouble free 11th, two excellent results for the 20 year old who has a bright future on the North Coast and much further afield.

The focus now for the team is the Isle of Man TT races where Joey will again campaign the Paton and Kawasaki, and he will be joined by Ian Lougher who will spearhead the Suter challenge on the exciting MMX 500 V4 2-stroke.

Team ILR owner-manager Ian Lougher:
"After we moved on from the North-West 200 paddock on Saturday night, and heading down to Belfast for the boat to the Isle of Man TT races, I was filled with a sense of relief that it was all over.
There's a number of reasons for this but the biggest one this time was the fact that I felt I almost had to apologise for our young rider Joey Thompson for going to a lot of trouble to giving him a quick Supertwins motorcycle...something that we all strive for at such a fast track.
The number of snide comments and criticism we got were very disappointing after Thursday's races where Joey finished 3rd in the twins race on his Mark Coverdale entered Paton twin, brought on by a few misinformed 'experts' and 'jealous' so called professional "RIDERS" who will remain unnamed.
But thankfully 99% of the comments we got through social media and the public were extremely positive and a massive boost for Joey, so thank you everyone who supported him in this.
Most people could see the promise the 20 yr old shows in only his second visit to the North West backed up by two excellent 11th place finishes in the fearlessly contested Supersport 600 races.
In Race 2 of the twins on Saturday afternoon whilst leading with only 2 corners to go the young Yorkshire man got shunted wide at the final chicane resulting in him finishing 3rd and having to go wide and over the kerbs with his bike getting two buckled wheels in the process, but he still took defeat in his stride and delivered a very professional speech to the TV and press that would put most of the professional "RIDERS" in the paddock to shame.
After the race of course we were asked to strip the engine of the Paton by the scrutineers to see if there were any discrepancies with the legality of the machine, which we did, and of course it was totally legal.
So I hope people can get behind this lad Joey Thompson as he is a refreshing prospect for the future, and I am glad to be associated with him in his quest for top honours."

Joey Thompson:
"The NW200 was a very productive but also difficult weekend for me and the team.
Still learning the circuit and the Paton we were always playing catch up to the guys with more experience and bike time.
Working hard all week we managed to get a good and comfortable setting with both the 600 and twin, on which we had a string of results in both classes.
It's a shame I couldn't win on Saturday but at least I'm in one piece and now ready for the TT.
Once again thanks to all my sponsors for the support.
A massive thanks to Team ILR, Mark Coverdale and Thompson's.


Team ILR Statement: North-West 200 Supertwin race.

Rumour: A currently circulating story or report of uncertain or doubtful truth. 

Team ILR and Ian Lougher  wish to dispel the comments made, and clarify a few points, in relation to the legality and cost of the Paton S1R twin machine following Joey Thompson's brilliant and stunning ride in Thursday evening's North-West 200 Supertwin race. 

The comments surrounding the bike are not only an attack on the team, Joey Thompson and our valued sponsors, but also on the historical and distinguished Paton name itself. 

Team ILR is one of the most respected race teams in the paddock, whether it be at British Superbikes, a road race, or any event for that matter. 
The team has always acted with professionalism and integrity and would never, and have never, sought to gain an unfair advantage in any race they have come to the startline for.
It's a team ethos we are very proud of and one that our team owner-manager Ian Lougher has carried into the team from his own distinguished racing career. 

Ian Lougher
"Joey rode a great race at such a young age in only his second visit to the North West, dicing with much more experienced riders and leading for much of the time. 
But as always when a young and new face arrives amongst the old guard there is always a little resentment. 
There were some comments made by one of the other riders on the rostrum that the Paton "wasn't a proper twin machine". Also there were comments made that "the machine costs 75,000 pounds and if any one of the other riders were on this bike then they would have cleared off." 
Firstly the S1R is a fully homologated machine and produced in Italy by the long established and well respected Paton company. 
To be homologated they have had to produce a certain amount of bikes as a road machine, they achieved this in 2014, once they did this they produced a tuned engined version of the bike and raced it at the Isle of Man several times before finally winning the TT race with Michael Rutter in 2017. 
As far as the cost of the bike is concerned, anyone can order and buy one for 35,000 pounds. 
This sounds a lot of money, but bearing in mind that most of the top bikes in this class are already costing this sort of money and some of them have cost more. We hope this clears up these matters, and wish Joey and everyone racing at the NW200 a safe and enjoyable days racing on Saturday." 

Moto Paton SC-Project
"Our bike, tuned for racing, is on sale at 35.000GBP, as everybody can see on Paton Official Website. 
Should the organiser ask for technical inspection, Moto Paton/SC-Project company will be very happy to be given the chance to show everybody that our bike performance superiority is the result of our technicians skill and the excellent job made at Moto Paton through the year."


On a sunny and hot May Bank Holiday weekend, Team ILR arrived at Oulton Park for the third round of the British Superbike Championship season, and it was a four rider team that took part with team owner-manager Ian Lougher competing in the British Motostar Championship race. 

British Supersport Championship 
Joey Thompson had a strong start in the first Free Practice session, but the remaining practice and qualifying sessions saw both Joey and his team mate Robert Kennedy struggling in the low teens, their cause not helped by a crash for Joey and the search for a good set-up for Robert, and both started Sunday's Sprint Race from the sixth and seventh rows of the grid. 
The opening lap found Robert in the points in 14th with Joey just three places back. On the third lap Kennedy dropped a place and Thompson had moved up to 16th but almost two seconds down on his team-mate.
Ahead of the two, Kurt Wigley then crashed out which moved both riders up a place with Joey beginning to close the gap to a struggling Robert with both riders having to fend off the challenge of Danny Booth. 
With two laps to go Joey moved ahead of Robert to claim 13th, and on the last lap Booth got the better of the Dundrod man to sandwich himself between the two Team ILR riders with Kennedy claiming the last championship point. 

In terms of race positions, Monday's Feature race was almost a carbon copy of the previous day with Joey and Robert again together on track in the early stages of the race. 
Both were riding strongly and as the race entered the closing stages Thompson began to move clear and push for a place in the Top 10 with Kennedy struggling with his Yamaha. 

Joey brought it home for a strong 11th place finish with Robert in an equally strong 13th. 

British Motostar Championship 
Dromara rider Sam Laffins had a team-mate for the Moto 3 round at Oulton in the experienced form of Ian Lougher who was using the meeting to gain the required number of races on his licence for the fast approaching Isle of Man TT races. 

Sunday's first race gave Ian the chance to keep a close eye on his young protege, it wasn't a straightforward task though as the Team ILR duo had a race long battle with Franco Bourne and Daniel Brooks with Bourne eventually splitting the two with Sam scoring three standard class points and Ian registering two points in the tuned class on the team's spare standard Moto 3 Honda. 

The second race was held in very warm conditions and again with a high track temperature and it was a more uneventful race for both riders with Ian repeating his two points from Race 1 and Sam notching up a fine six points as he continues his climb up the Standard Class Championship table. 

Team ILR owner/manager Ian Lougher
"It was a nice change for everyone to get back to racing is some decent sunshine at Oulton. 
RK struggled with finding a set up at first so he was always a session behind, but we found a better suspension setting for the first race but tried to improve it for Monday's race but went backwards a little, but still he was holding a good 11th until the R6 developed a problem with reving properly which dropped him down a few positions. 
Joey had an off in Free Practice 2 which was a real shame as although he was able to ride ok it certainly cost him some valuable track time. 
But overall he had a good solid weekend, and rounding it off with a great 11th in race two. 
Because of the cancellation of the recent Scarborough meeting I had to find somewhere to get in the compulsory two races for my TT licence, and the only meeting I could attend was this weekend's Oulton BSB. 
So it was a case of having a run round on the team's spare std Moto 3 machine and get it to the finish. 
I must say when your heart's not into racing really it becomes a bit of a hard slog, but the good point was I could observe Sam at close quarters on track and watch his lines and see how he was going. 
I have to say I was impressed with the young Dromara lad, he did have a small off in free practice but otherwise was riding really well.
It was nice to see him getting two solid finishes and a smile on his face afterwards." 

Joey Thompson
"Oulton Park was a productive weekend for us as we finally managed to make the jump up to the sharp end of the field. 
Breaking the top 10 in FP1 was great for our confidence but a crash on the 2nd lap of FP2 set us back, but after the team worked hard in the evening rebuilding the bike we came back stronger. 
I'm happy to leave the UK with 2 strong finishes in British Supersport and now it's time for the North West and Isle of Man TT! 
Mans Racing!! 
Once again thanks to all the team, all my personal sponsors, dad and all my family for their support!" 

Robert Kennedy
"Oulton was a tough weekend for me. 
From start to finish I struggled with set-up on the bike and getting comfortable. 
Maybe the circuit doesn't suit me but it wasn't from lack of trying from the team and me. 
To end the weekend off in the last race we started to lose power just as we had got into the top 10.
I was able to nurse it home for 13th. 
Thanks to all the team for working so hard and thanks to all my sponsors." 

Sam Laffins
"Oulton Park was a good weekend for me. 
Despite a minor crash in Free Practice, I was still confident of a good showing during the weekend. 
It was great having Ian on track with me as he was able to watch my lines etc, and then he gave me invaluable feedback which I can take with me going forward. 
Overall I was happy with how things went and I came away with more Championship points under my belt. 
A big thank-you to the team and everyone who is supporting me."


The second round of the British Superbike Championship season at Brands Hatch saw Team ILR field three riders, with Sam Laffins getting his season with the team underway in the first round of the British Motostar Championship. 

British Supersport Championship. 
In the Supersport class, Robert Kennedy had a particularly positive start to the weekend. 

In Free Practice 1, he finished an excellent second quickest and third fastest through two of the three sectors and also two of the three speed traps in the wet conditions, with Joey Thompson 20th and trying to find a good set-up. 
Drier conditions gave the riders a chance for some proper track time and qualifying saw Kennedy and Thompson post their fastest times of the weekend on their way to finishing 9th and 24th respectively. 

The first of the weekend's two races, Saturday's Sprint Race over 16 laps, was also held in dry conditions and Robert spent most of the race involved in an exciting four rider dice for 11th place, with the Dundrod rider eventually finishing a strong 13th, but more was to come in the second encounter. 

Joey meanwhile was involved in a similar scrap as he and four riders including GP2 rider Mike Brouwers battled for lower placings. 

Race 2 on Sunday was held in tricky conditions with rain falling on the Kent circuit. 
Unfazed, Kennedy quickly settled in from the fifth row of the grid and he went across the finish line at the end of the opening lap in 8th with his team-mate Thompson also riding well and making progress in 18th. 

With a quarter of the 12 lap race run, Robert was still in the top six and, as in the previous day's race, he again found himself in the midst of a group of riders. 

Robert kept things tidy in the tricky conditions as he moved between fifth and sixth place, however on the last lap he made his move and clinched fifth to move him into the Top 10 in the Championship and bring his weekend to a very satisfactory conclusion. 

Thompson also had his hands full as he also once again battled throughout with a group of riders. 

He gained three places on the tenth lap and despite dropping a place on the penultimate lap, he climbed two places on the last circuit to finish in a battling 14th for two championship points. 

British Motostar Championship.
Sam Laffins had an unfortunate start to his 2018 Moto 3 campaign when he crashed without injury at Graham Hill Bend during FP1. 
The team got Sam out for the second session where he finished 10th quickest and although he improved his time in qualifying, he finished one further place down the order in 11th for Race 1. 
Sam quickly settled into the race but in the latter stages he again came to grief, this time at Clearways, and unfortunately his race was run whilst lying in 8th place. 

The team again worked hard on the NSF 250 Honda and Sam was able to take his place on the ninth row of the grid for Sunday's Race 2, but he faced an uphill task on the short Indy circuit. 
As it was, Sam brought it home in 13th place to score his first points of the season, but importantly he had gained more valuable track time on the Moto 3 bike. 

The next round for Team ILR is at Oulton Park over the Bank Holiday weekend May 5-7. 

Team ILR owner-manager Ian Lougher
"Well it was nice to get some half decent weather at last at Brands Hatch for the second round of BSB. 
RK rode consistently well all weekend gaining confidence in the set-up we gave him and the team's and his hard work paid off with some great results. 
Hopefully with the bike set-up we have now, I'm sure Robert will have a great Oulton Park in 3 weeks time. 
Joey was riding well also, and his times getting better after every lap he did, setting his best times in the last race. But to be honest I think his thoughts are already fixed on the bigger road race meetings that are coming soon, so he's just using these early meetings to get up to speed in readiness for the major internationals. 
Sam has a heck of a lot of talent, but comes onto such a big stage of the BSB meetings and the British Talent Cup series with basically only one and a half years riding experience behind him, so he's having to learn so fast and try and find the limits of the Moto 3 bike in such a short space of time, which leads to mistakes and trips to the gravel trap, and this happened twice over the weekend. 
But when he settles into it and works hard at it, then he'll be fast and will surprise a lot of people in the future I'm sure." 

Robert Kennedy
"It was a brilliant weekend for me. 
Ian, William and my dad put a great bike underneath me throughout the whole weekend. It was so good to get two solid finishes with P13 in Race One, and the rain helped me in Race Two but it was so nice to finish fifth after the hard winter everyone has put in. 
We have some areas we can work on with both myself and the bike and hopefully we can improve on these in the next races with more track time. 
Massive thanks you to all at Team ILR all my sponsors, friends and family, and anyone who has helped me in any way."

Joey Thompson
"Brands Hatch was a very difficult round for me and the team. 
We started off in wet practice which meant we lost a session for setting up the new ZX6. 
We struggled a lot with gearing and set up all weekend and made a huge change every session and race we went into, which meant I was going into each race not knowing what the bike would be like. 
In the feature race we finally managed to get the perfect set-up for the bike but that was just too late unfortunately as we were well down the grid. 
Hopefully we can make a good round at Oulton Park and that's the circuits out the way with, and it'll be time to go Road Racing. 
Thanks to all Team ILR, THOMPSONS and all my personal sponsors for making it possible." 
Sam Laffins
"After getting some set-up in Free Practice 1, I went out in FP2 and got into the fifty-two's which put me in tenth. After qualifying in 11th I and dropped a place on the first lap of Race 1 but pulled back four places by lap five and was running in eighth place when I lost the front. 
Race 2 didn't go too well as the front brake wasn't releasing properly which meant the brake was holding a bit, but I managed 13th. 
So not a bad start to the season and roll on Oulton Park. 
I would like to thank Team ILR for doing a great job, and I would like to thank all my sponsors and supporters. 
It wouldn't be possible without you."


Team ILR had their first competitive outing of 2018 when the weather-hit first round of the British Superbike Championship season took place at a bitterly cold Donington Park over the Easter weekend with Joey Thompson and Robert Kennedy in action in the British Supersport Championship. 

Qualifying on Sunday saw Thompson finish among the top dozen riders with Kennedy down in 19th after an off at Starkey's, but he was still less than a second slower than his team-mate with both riders among the fastest five competitors through two of the three speed traps, and later in the day they lined up on the grid for the first of the weekend's two races, the sprint race over eight laps. 

Two laps in and Joey and Robert were together on track in 12th and 13th with Kennedy moving ahead on the next lap. 
At two-thirds distance the Dundrod man moved into the Top 10 and a lap later he was up to 8th as Thompson began to struggle with an over-heating engine on his Kawasaki. 

For the last two laps Kennedy was involved in a tussle with fellow Yamaha mounted Danny Booth with the latter grabbing 8th place from Robert who finished in a brilliant ninth on a track he only saw for the first time last season. 
Joey meanwhile nursed his bike home for a fine points finish in 12th. 

The feature Race 2 on Monday was badly affected by the weather with the race eventually getting the go ahead, but unfortunately Robert wasn't able to repeat his great ride from the previous day. 

Before the start of the race there was a problem with his Yamaha and although he started the race he had to admit defeat and retire after three laps with clutch problems. 

This left Joey as the team's sole rider in the race but the young Yorkshire rider had it all to do from the fifth row of the grid and eventually finished in a safe and mature 19th place in extremely tricky conditions. 

The action moves from Donington to Brands Hatch in two weeks time.

Team ILR owner-manager Ian Lougher
"After one of the coldest meetings I can ever remember, it's a relief to be leaving the first round with the riders and bikes in one piece to be honest. It was a mixed weekend for both riders. 
After a crash at Starkeys on Saturday, Robert slowly got his confidence back and had a fantastic ride through the field from 19th to 9th in the sprint race.
Joey was unlucky to have an over heating engine but still brought it home in 12th. 
To be very honest, if it hadn't have stopped raining and dried a little for the second race, my advice was to park the bikes as it was just outright dangerous to be out there on such a water logged and ever changing and unpredictable track. 
But fortunately it dried and although everybody chose wets on the damp track they both decided to race. 
RK had an issue with his clutch this time so retired and Joey brought it home in a very sensible 19th place finish. 
But overall we're all glad to see the back of Donington...maybe the organisers should look at a different one of their "many" tracks to host the first round of the series in a very cold March, as they have plenty to choose from..just a thought!!"

Joey Thompson
"We struggled a lot at Donington for Round 1 but we got a load of laps in, in the iffy conditions. 
Unfortunately we had a bad feature race which was my own fault and no one to blame. I just couldn't find the confidence and get into a groove on the slippery track. 
But we are taking all the positives from the weekend and leaving the rash behind us and moving onto Brands Hatch with a fresh head and ready to fight for a good result. 
Thanks to all Team ILR, Thompsons and all my personal sponsors for making it possible.
Another thank-you to my friends and supporters for braving the cold and rain to watch me." 

Robert Kennedy
"First round of the British Championship was a cold one but nevertheless it was good to get back out on the bike.
Qualifying in P19 for the sprint race, I made my way up to P9 which I didn't think would have been possible.
For the main race on the Monday I started 12th but had a problem before the race started. I tried to run with it for some laps but just started to drop back and in the end I pulled in so I wouldn't damage the bike any further.
A massive thank-you to all my team and sponsors, and we will look forward to Round 2 at Brands Hatch."


Team ILR can announce that team owner-manager Ian Lougher will compete at the 2018 Isle of Man TT races.

The 10-times TT winner will renew links with TEAM MIRAI when he spearheads their entry in the SES TT Zero race on Wednesday, June 6th. 

Lougher last rode for the Japanese outfit in 2013.
In extremely difficult circumstances, he took over the reigns of the Komatti-Mirai bike from his good friend Yoshinari Matsushita who tragically lost his life in a practice crash at Ballacrye.

The vastly experienced Welshman brought the bike home for a top six finish, in what was an emotionally charged, professional performance, 

TEAM MIRAI is an ambitious, friendly, private business that has a mission to 'contribute to society by developing vehicles that do not emit the next generation of carbon dioxide.' 
The company C/O Mr. Yoshihiro Kishimoto decided to try the TT again in 2018 with his new EV bike which brings to the table a very small machine, but with aggressive power using a NSF250 chassis.

Mr. Kishimoto himself competed in Pikes Peak in the USA, and he also competed at the Cemetery circuit in New Zealand among engine machines in 2017 finishing with two very respectable 5th and 6th places. 

It will again be a busy fortnight for Lougher as he will oversee the challenge of the team's young gun Joey Thompson who will be competing in his second TT races.

Team ILR owner-manager Ian Lougher:  
"I'm quite intrigued and looking forward to riding Kishimoto san's electric bike at the TT again, although this bike is a totally new machine from 2013.
I was lucky to be able to test the machine while I was in Japan recently, it was not an ideal test as it was only one degree above freezing but it was still good to get a general feel of it.
It's very small as it's based around a Moto 3 Honda chassis, which is great for me as I have plenty of experience riding one of those, so I'll get tucked in and see how we get on."

TEAM MIRAI owner-manager Mr. Yoshihiro Kishimoto:
"I am extremely pleased that my team is planning to come back to TT  Zero for the first time in five years.
At our last participation in TT  Zero in 2013 during our final preparation for the machine "TT Zero 13", we heard the news of Yoshinari Matsushita's accident while we were in London.
Our team had to face the heaviest difficult decision after our rider died during practice for the Isle of Man TT.
But Ian Lougher who was a close friend of Yoshinari decided to ride for him and he finished the race well.
This year, I am very proud that Ian and our team can come together again for the TT  Zero race.
Of course, Yoshinari will also participate together in our minds.
We are just a small independent team from Japan, please support us and our rider Ian Lougher.
Thank you." 

                               TEAM MIRAI website link: http://ev-mirai.com


Joey Thompson will have a factory S1-R Paton at his disposal at the Isle of Man TT, as well as the big international meetings at Scarborough, the North-West 200, Southern 100 and the Ulster Grand Prix in 2018. 
The young rising star will ride the Supertwin machine in the Lightweight TT and he will add his name to a list containing names such as Mike Hailwood, Roberto Gallina and Virginio Ferrari who have ridden the iconic Paton in the past. 

Joey had a very impressive pure roads debut in 2017 and he will arrive next year with more experience and circuit know-how, and the rider from Yorkshire is fully aware of what it takes to become a serious roads campaigner thanks to having Team ILR owner-manager Ian Lougher, himself no stranger to the Paton name, in his corner. 

Paton returned to the TT in an official capacity in 2014 to challenge the dominance of the ER-6 Kawasaki, with Olie Linsdell finishing an excellent sixth in the Lightweight TT. 

The following year, Paton Motorcycles turned to Lougher to oversee their Lightweight effort in the hands of Michael Rutter, under the banner Paton/Team ILR. 
Rutter and the team produced a superb display to put Paton on the podium in third, a result that absolutely delighted the Italian manufacturer, and who's to say that Joey Thompson won't grace the podium next June. 

Team ILR owner-manager Ian Lougher
"I am so pleased that we are in a position to offer Joey a potential race winning package for the Lightweight TT class, thanks must go out to the people who have made this possible for us, Mark Coverdale and Solway Slate and Tile

The Paton name is an iconic name in motorcycle racing, and Team ILR look forward to renewing our ties with the Paton factory. 

Joey is certainly not under any pressure from anybody to perform, as our ethos from a team perspective is 'a happy rider is a fast rider', so roll on 2018. 
Merry Xmas and a Happy New Year to everybody from Team ILR." 

Joey Thompson
''Well what can I say, I am on a proven winning bike with a winning mentor... no excuses now! 
Seriously though I am so happy to be riding the Paton at Team ILR next season, as seeing the bike perform at the TT this year it was outstanding and to be given the opportunity to race the bike at all the international road races it gives me the opportunity to prove myself. 
It won't be easy though, it's a completely new bike for me as it will be completely different to the Trickbits Racing Suzuki twin I have previously rode and won on. 
So to be honest I have a lot of confidence on a super twin machine so let's get 2018 underway and see what me and the team can do. 
Once again thanks to everyone for this opportunity as without all the support from Thompson's, Team ILR and all my personal and team sponsors this wouldn't be possible.'' 
#TeamJoey #74


Team ILR's domestic championship season ended recently when the British Superbike series rolled into Brands Hatch for the final rounds of the 2017 season. 

The team again had three riders in action, with Sam Laffins competing in the KTM 390 RC British Junior Cup, and Joey Thompson joined in the two British Supersport Championship races by Robert Kennedy who was returning to the fold after his Superstock 600 crash at Oulton Park. 

Thompson would go on to register two solid Top 15 places on the more popular and longer GP circuit, with the second race being a bit more straightforward compared to the first where he was involved in a great dice with Tommy Philip. For Kennedy however, it was a weekend he will want to put well and truly behind him. 

He struggled throughout due to problems with his own privately run Yamaha R6, and as such practice and qualifying as well as Race 1 were non-events. Robert did however register a result in Race 2 when he led a chasing pack of 5 riders over the line to finish 23rd. 

Meanwhile, still justifiably buoyed by his selection for the 2018 British Talent Cup, Sam Laffins was going about his business in the KTM 390 RC British Junior Cup. 
Sam went into free practice not knowing what to expect as this was another new track for him. 
Nevertheless, he was really looking forward to the challenge ahead and set the 3rd quickest lap on the last lap of the session! 

Heading into qualifying Laffins was feeling confident and had provided some good feedback, which allowed team owner/manager Ian Lougher to make some set-up adjustment to the bike, making Sam more confident and comfortable. 

It certainly did the trick as the young Dromara rider qualified in 4th, having held the 3rd fastest lap right up until the last lap. 

However, a jump start in the first race meant he had to take a ride through penalty. 
Sam decided to take this penalty on the second lap whilst in 4th place, and he was back in last place coming out of the pits and had to make up 20 seconds to the last place rider. 
Laffins was pushing hard and after 4 laps he was up to 17th and eventually finished in a spirited 16th place. 
He did however post the 8th fastest lap time which meant he started from 8th on the grid for the second race. 

A bad start meant he was still in 8th into the first corner, but Sam knew he could make up places in Turn 2. 

At the end of the opening lap he was up to 4th place and was again pushing hard. Going on to the last lap he was 5th and approaching Clearways he made a pass and went from 5th to 3rd in one corner, but in doing so he lost the momentum and drive onto the straight and was just pushed off the last podium position by 0.1 of a second. 
Sam and the team were very pleased with his performance and were feeling really good afterward. 

Team ILR owner/manager Ian Lougher
"Robert was so unfortunate to have a faulty ecu on his Yamaha, as it has never given any problem before, and to only get 5 laps in the morning warm-up before race two was so hard for him, but better than nothing. 
Joey was visiting the BSB scene for only the fourth time in 2017 but acted like he'd been at every meeting. 
He once again bettered his personal best lap time by over 1.7 seconds to qualify him well and came away with two 13th place finishes using an engine that was built for the road races with all top end power. 
For young Sam he rode brilliantly, especially in race two where he only got passed right on the finish line and was denied a rostrum spot in 2017, which summed up his season. 
But in my opinion it won't be long before the Dromara lad is climbing onto it very soon." 

Sam Laffins
"As it was the last round of the BSB championship, I would like to say a massive thank-you to Ian and Asa for the hospitality. 
Without Ian's knowledge and experience, this year wouldn't have gone as well as it has, I would also like to say a massive thank-you to all my personal sponsors for making this happen, it definitely would not have been possible without you all. 
I have enjoyed every minute of this year..... Roll on 2018." 

Joey Thompson
"Brands was a really strong season finisher for us with 2 races within the points. 
We found a great set up with the ZX6 but just lacked a bit of power as we were using our TT engines. 
But all in all, I was really happy with mine and the team's performance and can't wait for next season. 
Thanks to everyone that made this season possible because without you I wouldn't be where I am! 
See you in 2018." 

Robert Kennedy
"Tough weekend for me at Brands Hatch for the final British Championship round. 
I decided to ride in Supersport on my own bike, but after 1st practice I had blown an ecu. 
The team and I worked hard to try and get back out for Saturday but a new ecu was required. 
Got to say a big thank you to my Dad and Willy for having to go and driving a couple of hours just to get a new ecu. 
Big thanks to Midland Caliper for getting someone to lift the ecu and meet my Dad. 
We got the bike going and got out in morning warm-up on Sunday. 
I completed 5 laps and was allowed to join the race at the back of the grid. 
With no set up we started in 32nd and ended up in 17th, obviously I wasn't pleased and felt like pulling in during the race as the bike wasn't nice to ride, but we have since found a problem with the suspension. 
Just want to thank everyone for all their support and help this season. 
Especially Team ILR, Team Sandown and all my sponsors. 
Big thanks to my family as well, as I wouldn't be able to do it without them."


Team ILR owner/manager Ian Lougher added to his record tally of Oliver's Mount wins at the weekend when he came away from the Steve Henshaw International Gold Cup meeting with two wins in both Ultra-Lightweight races, however the weekend was marred by two serious incidents on Sunday which resulted in the rest of the meeting being abandoned. 

The road racing legend was joined at the North Yorkshire pure roads circuit by his young protege and rising star Joey Thompson, who earlier in the week had made the surprise decision to race at the event despite only being released from hospital on Tuesday following his big crash at Oulton Park last Sunday. 

Joey had another crash in qualifying on Saturday and a retirement from the Lightweight/Ultra Lightweight race when dicing for the lead did nothing for his healing process and seemed to have put paid to his chances of winning the Lightweight 250cc Championship. 

However a retirement from Sunday's second race by nearest challenger Alistair Haworth handed Joey the title without him turning another wheel. 

Ian Lougher meanwhile has seen it all before and he rode steady in both the Stu Reed/Phil Mellor Trophy races to finish 3rd and 2nd overall respectively in both races to be first rider home by a comfortable margin in the Ultra-Lightweight class and take his Oliver's Mount race win tally to an incredible 140.

Team ILR owner/manager Ian Lougher
"With Joey now getting the nickname 'the yorkie bar kid' coming back from his massive crash at Oulton Park just 5 days before where his bike was written off, and only being able to walk properly on Wednesday, it was a case of seeing if he would be able to ride at all at the Gold Cup meeting. 
Things didn't get off to a great start either when on Saturday he ran wide at Memorial and crashed his dad's 250 Yamaha in qualifying, (he only needed 2 points to clinch the Auto 66 Junior Championship!!!!) once that was repaired the bike seized a piston in the race putting him out of the race. 
Joey showed his maturity and resilience though to bounce back with fine 5th place finishes on the 600, and equalled his best ever lap around Oliver's Mount. 
This kid is quite remarkable. 
It was a very difficult and trying time for the Auto 66 club over the weekend. 
The marshals deserve a medal for the job they do, so from all at Team ILR our best wishes go out to everyone who was involved in any incidents at the Scarborough Gold Cup meeting." 

Joey Thompson
"The Gold Cup was a tough one for me and the team but especially with my fitness after just being released from hospital 3 days before. 
I struggled with another crash on the 250 which meant the 250 had to be in the van for the weekend. 
I had 3 5th places on the Thompson's / ILR Supersport bike and also on the Paul Jinks Trickbits Suzuki SV650 which was great. I also managed to wrap up the Lightweight championship while sat watching the race. 
Once again I would like to thank everyone for giving me this opportunity, my dad, Team ILR, Trickbits and all my personal sponsors and supporters. 
It's a shame we couldn't end the season on a high after such a great season, but we will make our strong return in 2018!!! 
Peace out! #74."


Team ILR had two riders in action as the British Superbike Championship visited Cadwell Park in Lincolnshire at the weekend, with circuit newcomers Sam Laffins back in the Santander Consumer Finance KTM RC 390 British Junior Cup, and Robert Kennedy competing in the Pirelli National Superstock 600 Championship. 

Santander Consumer Finance KTM 390 RC British Junior Cup With only a few days until he took part in the British Talent Cup selection event at Silverstone, Sam Laffins could have been forgiven for 'taking things easy', but this wasn't the case as he arrived at the nicknamed 'mini-Nurburgring' determined to show just why he has been selected for such a prestigious opportunity this week. 
His weekend got off to a less than ideal start though when he was shunted off the track by another rider on his practice session out-lap and lost the front end when he had to take to the grass. 
This meant that his very first laps of Cadwell Park would be in qualifying! 

Undaunted Sam went out and duly qualified a brilliant sixth quickest and was in the top 6 though both speed traps. At the end of the opening lap of Race 1 on Saturday, Laffins had dropped two places but was very much in the hunt for sixth as the top five riders began to pull away in front. 

At the halfway stage Sam had made sixth place his own and had his sights set on fifth place rider Connor Thomson who was half a second in front. Sam claimed fifth on the fifth lap and next on the radar was fourth in the championship Matthew Bower who he caught and passed on the next lap after setting what would be the 4th fastest lap of the race. 
With two laps to go Laffins was holding on to 4th place, but Bower wasn't quite finished and the two had a real scrap over the next two laps which went all the way to the finish with Matthew just getting the nod by the smallest of margins. 

For Sunday morning's warm-up team boss Ian Lougher made some changes to the bike after feedback from Sam, and he immediately felt the benefit and finished in 3rd place and feeling confident.  His great ride the previous day had put him two places up the grid to head the second row for Race 2 which would again see him in a tussle with Bower and Thomson. 
This time though Laffins got the measure of his Race 1 rival to take a superb fourth place from Bower in fifth, and he set the fifth best lap of the race on his last lap. 
Sam was also third quickest through the finish line speed trap, and was in the top six through all three sectors to complete a very satisfactory weekend's work. 

Pirelli National Superstock 600 Championship 
Team Sandown's Robert Kennedy has got his season back on track in recent rounds, and he maintained this momentum with an excellent performance at Cadwell. 
Practice and qualifying were held in tricky conditions with rain appearing midway through the second practice session and at the start of qualifying. 
Despite this, the team worked professionally to ensure Robert had the best set-up possible and, with the qualifying session virtually completed, he put in his best lap to finish an excellent 8th quickest, and he was also third fastest through both speed traps. 

From the third row of the grid, Kennedy got a good start and soon found himself in a safe sixth, which by the seventh lap was still looking very secure. However, on the 10th of 11 laps he was coming under real pressure from Dan Stamper and Bradley Pirie, and as they went on to the last lap the battle for sixth was very much on with only 0.4s covering the three. 

But Robert is riding with renewed confidence and he kept his nerve and rode brilliantly to fend off the challenge and hold on to sixth place. 
He also set the 4th fastest lap of the race which was only 0.314 seconds outside the new lap record to round off a very pleasing weekend for the Dundrod rider who now sits tenth in the championship. 

Team ILR owner/manager Ian Lougher
"It's fair to say that I'm so impressed with both RK and Sam for their efforts over the weekend. 
Cadwell Park is such a difficult and strength-sapping circuit, it's hard to describe how much of an obstacle it is until you have ridden it. 
They were both first timers at the place, but worked hard and got to grips with it so quickly, it's unreal how fast learners they both are. 
Sam was unlucky not to get 4th in his first race, getting out dragged to the line by 0.024 of a second, but made up for it in race two and out paced his two nearest rivals on the last lap to claim 4th in that one. 
RK was unsure if he even liked the place after his first practice, but qualified 8th to go on and have an amazing race to bring it home in a fine 6th position." 

Sam Laffins
"Right from the beginning this has been a very challenging, but also a very rewarding meeting and arriving on the back of a recovery truck wasn't the best start, but I was looking forward to getting to grips with the challenging Cadwell track regardless. 
I enjoyed the track and quickly got to grips with it, enjoying the undulations of the back and the technical nature of the mountain section. 
After a few laps, I started to really feel confident and began to push for a good time. 
When up to speed I felt a few slides from the front and knew I could make some improvements. 
I felt very happy with my progression throughout the weekend with all the problems we had, I'd like to thank Ian Lougher and Asa from Team ILR for their support and input, and indeed all my personal sponsors, friends and family for making this happen. 
Now on to Silverstone for the British Talent Cup trials, where I hope to keep the momentum going and give a good performance." 

Robert Kennedy
"I didn't know what to expect going into this weekend, as I had never been to Cadwell Park before! 
After FP1 I wasn't overly enjoying the track, but thanks to the hard work from Ian, Willy and my dad we made great progress as the weekend went on. 
I was over the moon with my qualifying place which has been a struggle for me this year. 
In the race itself, I made a great start and tried to go with the leading bunch, but to be honest I didn't have the track knowledge to stay with them, but I'm over the moon with 6th place. 
Just want to thank all at Team ILR and Team Sandown for all their hard work, all my sponsors for making this happen every weekend, and all my family and friends." 

The next round of both championships take place at Silverstone in three weeks time. 
In the meantime, Sam Laffins is at Silverstone for the British Talent Cup event, and Team ILR owner/manager Ian Lougher is back on the Isle of Man where he will take part in the Classic TT races.


Team ILR's Dundrod newcomer Joey Thompson has already claimed his first win on the famous circuit when he romped to victory in the Dundrod 150 National race on Thursday. 

The race was red flagged after the leaders had crossed the line at the end of the third lap with Thompson holding a 6-second lead and pulling away with every turn of the wheels. Quickest in practice, Thompson dominated from the off on the Team ILR Kawasaki ZX-6 and he stamped his authority on the scheduled five-lap race leading from start to finish. 

As the lights signaled the start of the race, the 19 year old showed absolutely no nerves as he quickly powered to a lead of over two seconds from Davey Todd as Jonathan Perry, Rob Hodson and Josh Daley battled for third, some four seconds in arrears. 

At the front there was no stopping Joey and he wasn't going to be denied as he continued to carve out a now secure race winning advantage on the second lap of just over three seconds with the fastest lap of the race over Todd with British Supersport runner Daley third. 

As they finished their third lap Thompson had doubled his lead to over six seconds with Perry now ahead of Daley for third. The race was then red-flagged shortly afterward due to an incident at Joey's Windmill with the result going back a lap to give Joey his maiden race win at Dundrod. 

So Thompson went into his first Ulster Grand Prix two days later in a confident mood, and his second outing of the day saw him podium Adrian Nettleship's 125 Honda when he scored a brilliant third place in the Ultra-Lightweight race. 

With a best lap some 14 seconds quicker than his qualifying mark, Joey rode a sensible race to come home over 13 seconds clear of another rising star Adam McLean. 

If Thompson's ride on the small bike was impressive, his performance in the first Supersport encounter was no less so, as he came from 20th on the grid to brilliantly hold off the challenge of James Cowton, Ivan Lintin and Christian Elkin and bring the ZX-6 home in 12th place after a terrific race between the four. 

The second Supersport race saw Joey involved in an exciting scrap for fifth with a seven rider group including, Elkin, Coward, Cowton, Todd and Paul Jordan. 
Joint quickest through the Flying Kilo speed trap at 176.3mph, unfortunately on the last lap he hit a false neutral at Leathemstown and had to take to the grass. 
He recovered but lost 10 seconds and dropped to 10th, but his performances had deservedly clinched him the meeting's Best Newcomer Award. 
It's the second time in two years that Team ILR has achieved this, with Horst Saiger picking up the Best Newcomer Award at the 2015 event. 

The 2017 'Ulster' was a successful one for the team, and yet another meeting where Joey Thompson made a real name for himself and where everyone at Team ILR again worked so hard for him. 

Our thoughts are with the family and friends of Jamie Hodson who sadly lost his life on Thursday and we wish a speedy recovery to the riders who were injured. 

The busy season continues this weekend with the next round of the Pirelli National Superstock 600 Championship at Cadwell Park with Robert Kennedy in action, and where Sam Laffins makes a welcome return in the KTM RC390 British Junior Cup. 

Team ILR owner/manager Ian Lougher
"The Ulster GP is not an easy place to learn, with so many blind corners at such high speed, that's what made the circuit my favourite as it's a real challenge. 
So for 19 yr old Joey to leave Dundrod after his first visit having bagged some top results and lap times, which will have shamed some of his rivals, not to mention best newcomer in every race he entered is nothing short of mind blowing. 
It's a shame he got a false neutral on the last lap of Supersport Race 2 as a top five place was definitely on the cards. 
People kept asking me if I miss racing at Dundrod, my answer was...of course I do, but the next best thing is working with a young talented rider like Joey Thompson, who listens and wants to learn and progress, which is so very satisfying for me." 

Joey Thompson
"Ulster GP, where do we start... being a newcomer to the circuit I did not expect the performances I pulled off, getting to grips with the Dundrod circuit so quickly was a surprise but with the help from Ian's knowledge it made it a lot easier. 
Winning Race 1 was ideal as it set me up with confidence for the rest of the week, the 600 ran perfect with no issues and the Nettleship Honda RS125 was singing and we managed to qualify front row then get a podium after a hard race against Moto3s. 
It has been a very successful week and I enjoyed every minute of it, being the fastest ever 600cc newcomer topped it all off nicely. 
Thanks to my dad, Team ILR and all my sponsors and fans for a great time!"




Next Event
British Superbikes 
August 3 - 5 
Sam Laffins
British Motostar Championship (Moto 3) Standard Class

''I really respect Ian and his guys, not only for their success on the track, but for the friendly reception and countless cups of coffee and biscuits afforded over the years whenever I have shown up at their garage.
I am sure that their success will continue.''

Professional Photographer
Graham Ravensdale
2018 Season 
BSB Championships: Brands Hatch (GP)
Southern 100

BSB Championships: Knockhill
Isle of Man TT Races
International North-West 200
BSB Championships Round 3: Oulton Park
BSB Championships Round 2: Brands Hatch (Indy)
BSB Championships Round 1: Donington Park 
2017 Season
BSB Championships: Silverstone
Classic TT: Isle of Man
BSB Championships: Cadwell Park
Dundrod 150/Ulster GP
BSB Championships: Thruxton
BSB Championships: Brands Hatch GP

Southern 100: Billown
Cock O' the North Road Races: Oliver's Mount
BSB Championships: Knockhill
Post TT Races: Billown
Isle of Man TT
North-West 200

BSB Championships Round 3:
 Oulton Park
Bob Smith Spring Cup: Oliver's Mount
BSB Championships Round 2: Brands Hatch (Indy)

BSB Championships Round 1: Donington Park
2016 Images
BSB Championships Round 12: Brands GP
BSB Championships Round 10: Donington Park
BSB Championships Round 9: Oulton Park
BSB Championships Round 8: Cadwell Park
BSB Championships Round 7: Brands Hatch GP

Isle of Man TT
BSB Championships
Round 3:
Brands Hatch (Indy)
BSB Championships Round 2: Oulton Park
Suter MMX 500 First Test: ASC Vairano Circuit
Bob Smith Spring Cup: Oliver's Mount
BSB Championships Round 1: Silverstone