Welcome to Team ILR...

Before this year's International North-West 200 the name Joey Thompson may not have been on everyone's lips, but at the conclusion of this year's meeting the 18 year old Team ILR teamster had won himself an army of admirers. 

Joey arrived at the North West having never raced there before, but he had an ace card to play in the form of Team ILR owner/manager Ian Lougher, an eight times North-West 200 winner and the only man to win five consecutive 125cc races at the event. 
One of the first items on the agenda for Joey was a car trip around the famous triangle circuit with the vastly experienced Lougher passing on valuable tips to his young rider. 

Joey approached Supersport practice both with the eagerness of his young years and the maturity of an older rider. In first qualifying he circulated at a very steady 106.93mph, going through the speed trap at 164.6mph, and declaring himself very happy with his day's work and already looking forward to the second session where he knocked a full 7.5 seconds off his previous best lap time and also showing that he was getting accustomed to the high speed nature of the circuit by upping his speed trap time to 169.6mph. 
His efforts meant that he started the first race heading the second row of Group B. 

At the end of the opening lap of Thursday evening's 6 lap race only Guy Martin from the second wave of riders was in front of Joey, and on the next lap Joey got ahead to lead Group B and hold 20th overall. The next few laps saw Thompson lose a place but he rode sensibly to come home in 21st place and claim the second wave honours and the fastest lap by a newcomer, a very commendable performance. 

Overnight rain on Friday night left the North-West circuit wet on Saturday morning but as the riders went out on their sighting lap for the second Supersport race, a combination of a drying wind and heavy road traffic had dried approx 80% of the course. 

However at the chicanes and on sections of the coast road, particularly at Juniper Hill, there were still large damp patches. 
Following a short delay the race eventually got underway and Joey immediately took the initiative from the second group and led the charge into the right hander towards Primrose and down to York Corner. 
From there he progressed to 17th place and was again the fastest newcomer on the circuit when a mechanical problem on the penultimate lap brought his race to a disappointing end. 
Nevertheless Joey had shown that he is going to be a future star on the North Coast. 

It's the Isle of Man TT next for Team ILR, where Joey Thompson makes his debut at the event and will be the youngest rider ever to line-up on the Glencrutchery Road. Also at the end of the month Robert Kennedy and Ozzy Madey will be in action in the next round of the Pirelli National Superstock 600 Championship, where it is one of the support races in the Donington Park World Superbikes Round. 

Team ILR owner/manager Ian Lougher
"It's fair to say I'm very proud of Joey, he took his first visit to one of the fastest road race circuits in the world in his stride, in damp and challenging conditions that even a more experienced rider would have found extremely daunting. 
He showed total composure and wasn't fazed at all about the task in front of him. 
It was such a shame he couldn't finish his Saturday race as he had 17th in the bag. 
At Team ILR we all look forward now to our visit to the Isle of Man in a couple of weeks time with Joey, and to carry on giving him as much guidance and help as we possibly can and make his first TT visit a successful one." 

Joey Thompson
"I had an awesome time at the North-West 200, the most fun I've ever had on a motorbike. 
I was absolutely gutted that we had to retire from the main race on Saturday with a mechanical issue, as we were on for what would have been a very strong debut result. 
The whole week went to plan and we chipped away each time. 
Thanks to all the team, sponsors, and for all your support. 
This is only the beginning!!"


Team ILR welcomed back Ozzy Madey from injury as the team arrived at the latest round of the British Superbike Championship season at Oulton Park over the May Bank Holiday weekend. 

It was a three rider team that took part in their respective classes, with no KTM RC Cup race Sam Laffins didn't travel to the Cheshire circuit from his home in Northern Ireland. 

Fresh from a successful outing at Oliver's Mount the previous weekend where he picked up four wins, Joey Thompson settled into Free Practice finishing 15th, but the second session brought disaster for him with a blown engine bringing his weekend to an abrupt halt. 

Superstock 600 Free Practice saw Robert Kennedy just outside the Top 6 in the first session with Madey in 23rd. 

Both riders were 12th and 24th respectively when the second session was red-flagged, with Kennedy already slightly faster than his first time. The conclusion of the session would see Robert 5th fastest, improving by almost two seconds and just over half a second off the pace, with Ozzy also going quicker but down in 27th. 

In qualifying 'RK' was really on it to finish 5th, but the timing sheet would show him only 0.2 off second place and 0.4 off pole. 
Ozzy meanwhile was continuing to improve his times and started the race from 26th on the grid. 

Unfortunately Robert never made it beyond the first lap of the race as he was taken out by another rider at the Britten Chicane and was lucky to escape injury as riders took evasive action, and with Ozzy finishing well down in 24th it was a disappointing weekend for the team. 

It's a return to the roads and the North-West 200 next for Team ILR, where Joey Thompson will continue his preparations for the forthcoming Isle of Man TT races. 
Robert and Ozzy will also compete in the next round of the Superstock 600 Championship, where it is one of the support races in the Donington Park World Superbikes Round. 

Team ILR owner/manager Ian Lougher
"It's fair to say that Oulton wasn't one of our better meetings, although things like Joey's engine problems and Robert being taken out of his race by another rider through no fault of his own are things you just can't account for. 
It was also Ozzy's first race back from injury and he's determined to break into the points in the coming rounds. 
We'll now re-group, move on, and prepare for the North-West 200. 
Onwards and Upwards." 

Joey Thompson
"Unfortunately this weekend at BSB Oulton Park come to a premature end with engine failures once again. 
Tough start to the season but looking forward to my road racing campaign now! 
NW200 up next. 
Big thank-you to all the team and sponsors." 

Ozzy Madey
"The best part of this weekend was the drive home! 
A fairly atrocious weekend in terms of what we did on track...can't really say much more than that. 
We ran full wets on a drying circuit (as many did) but I couldn't make the most of it like everyone else could. 
Bad day at the office." 

Robert Kennedy
"I started the race from P5 and was in 5th on the first lap. 
But there was a collision with another rider and I went down, but we will look ahead to the next round. 
Thanks to all the team for all their hard work and of course to Team ILR for all their help. 
Thank-you to all the sponsors who make this happen. 
I've learned a lot this weekend."


Spring certainly sprung for Team ILR at the Bob Smith Spring Cup Road races at Oliver's Mount, Scarborough at the weekend, with the team coming away with a total of five wins and no fewer than six Top 6 placings. 

Good weather was forecast for the weekend and whilst this did eventually materialise, nevertheless overnight rain made for a tricky few laps on Saturday morning in which Joey Thompson headed timed qualifying for the Lightweight/Ultra Lightweight class. 

The rain gave way to sunny but chilly conditions as racing got underway on Saturday afternoon with Joey finishing 10th in a high quality Junior Race field and he followed this up with a runaway win in the Solo Open B race which he led from start to finish with the fastest lap of the race. 

Next up was the Lightweight/Ultra Lightweight race with Thompson on pole and Ian Lougher seventh quickest. Joey led them through at the end of the opening lap and he was never headed, eventually winning by over half a minute from the experienced Paul Owen and again posting the fastest lap of the race. 
The real race however was in the ultra-lightweight class where Lougher had come from the third row to gradually close on front row starter Justin Waring. 
With two laps to go the gap was one second, and on the penultimate lap Lougher made his move and used all his experience to just hold on to the line to take the honours and round off a very good first day for the team. 

Sunday dawned dry and sunny as Joey opened his day's account with 12th in the second Junior race and he again dominated the Solo Open B race. 
He then scored his second win in the Lightweight/Ultra Lightweight class with another dominant performance. 
Joey's lead at one point was over 13 seconds before he showed great maturity to roll off and come home with 8.4 seconds to spare. 
Meanwhile Lougher and Waring had resumed their dice from the previous day and this time it was 'local' man Waring who just got the better of the exchange with two laps to go to take the win. 
The last action for the team was in the main Spring Cup race with Joey having a solid ride to finish 11th and the second highest placed 600 rider. 

So a successful Spring Cup for Team ILR with four wins for the impressive Joey Thompson and yet another one for the circuit's most successful ever competitor Ian Lougher. 

Unofficial word regarding Ian's race win tally is that the statisticians have just stopped counting! 

Team ILR owner/manager Ian Lougher
"I was really impressed with Joey over the weekend. 
It was the first time for him to ride his 600 around Oliver's Mount, it's not an easy place to learn especially in mixed conditions as it was on the Saturday morning. 
But he listens carefully, taking in all the advice from myself and his mechanic Jacko, and he chipped away at steadily improving his set-up on the ZX6 and bringing his times down. 
This has shown us that he has real maturity and promise and he should take the forthcoming North-West 200 and TT races in his stride. 
As for my own results at Scarborough, I really enjoyed being back on a motorcycle, the first time since September. 
The little NSF250 Moto 3 bike did me proud, helping me win the Saturday race and narrowly missing the same on the Sunday...top do!!'' 

Joey Thompson
''We had a strong weekend at Oliver's Mount, as I had never ridden there on a 600 before. 
We were progressing leaps and bounds every session. We managed to take 4 wins on the 600 and 250 and made good progress in the main Spring Cup open race. 
The whole weekend went to plan and all at Team ILR did a superb job and thanks to my dad and sponsors for all their help. 
Also a big thank you to all the fans and supporters at the event, it makes it a great atmosphere! 
Now, on to Round 3 of BSB!'' 

From the roads it's back to the short circuits where the team will again be in the British Superbikes paddock for the continuation of the premier domestic championships at Oulton Park over the May Bank Holiday weekend.

The second round of the British Superbike Championship season at Brands Hatch saw Team ILR reduced to three riders with Ozzy Madey ruled out of participation in the Pirelli National Superstock 600 with a back injury. 

Nevertheless the team's remaining three riders were determined to put in a good showing around the short Indy circuit. 

The latest round, held as it was over the Easter weekend, saw four days of action with young Dromara rider Sam Laffins the only one not in action on the first day. 

British Supersport Championship 
In the Supersport class, Joey Thompson had a positive start to the weekend. 

In Free Practice 1, Joey finished 16th but just under a second off the top spot, and he continued to improve his times in FP2 and qualifying to finish 19th on the grid for the first of the weekend's three races. 

It was a frustrating first race though, as a poor start immediately put Thompson on the back foot and he spent the race in a group of riders all trying to break into the Top 20. 
A last lap effort by Joey just failed to get to James Hillier in 20th who he finished one place behind. 

Race 2 was only a few laps old when spots of rain began to fall as Andrew Irwin and Keith Farmer crashed out, resulting in a red flag. 

The re-start was over a reduced 14 laps and, as in the first race, a battle soon developed between Thompson and Hillier for 20th place but unfortunately Joey's race came to an end with a lap to go with an engine valve problem. 

In the feature race Thompson and Hillier were at it again with both running just outside the Top 20. 

In another red-flagged and restarted race, Joey just couldn't get past though with Hillier claiming 20th one place ahead of the Team ILR rider in a repeat of the first race placings. 

Joey Thompson
''We struggled with set-up at Round 2, but the team worked hard to try to solve the little issues. 
Unfortunately I just didn't have the pace to make it into the points in any of the races but we will keep working hard and not give up.  
Thanks to all my sponsors, dad, family and all at Team ILR for their support. 
Roll on Oliver's Mount!'' 

KTM RC British Junior Cup Championship 
Saturday morning saw Sam Laffins make his first appearance on track with Free Practice for the KTM British Junior Cup in which he finished 14th. 
Sam then went over one second quicker in qualifying to claim a spot in the middle of the fourth row of the grid for the first of the weekend's three races, with two taking place on Easter Sunday. 

The first race saw a real scrap between seven riders including Laffins, and in a dice that went to the flag Sam finished an excellent 8th and under half a second away from a Top 6 placing.  
Sam quickly settled into 6th place in the second race and again was involved in a battle for top placings when he unfortunately crashed out on the fourth lap, thankfully without injury. 

In Race 3 on Easter Monday, Laffins was 13th at the end of Lap 1 but was soon in the middle of a trio of riders sorting out 10th place with Sam determinedly holding on to this position at the chequered flag to bring another promising weekend to a close for the 15 year old. 

Sam Laffins
''The weekend started great when I qualified 11th and finished 8th in Race One, only a hundredth of a second between me and 5th place and only lapping one second off the leading group. 
For the second race I was moved up to 7th place on the grid but unfortunately I slid off at Clearways which moved me back to 12th on the grid for race 3. I finished 10th in the 3rd race and I had a continuous battle with Adam Dunn and Jordan McCord. 
Qualifying is very important in this class because you have to get away with the leading group and just go with them so falling off in the second race messed everything up for me because I was put back on the grid. 
I would like to thank all my sponsors and Team ILR and Ian for all his help over the four days. 
I would also like to thank Andy Reid, Joey Thompson and Ozzy Madey for their help improving my line and riding style. 
Roll on Knockhill.''  

National Superstock 600 Championship 
Free Practice saw Team Sandown's Robert Kennedy well to the fore as he finished third just 0.35 seconds off the fastest time. 
Saturday's second Free Practice saw Robert improve his time to finish 6th quickest and again well in the mix at only 0.4s down. 

With Team ILR owner/manager Ian Lougher in his corner, Sunday's qualifying would see Robert dip under 48 seconds for his best lap so far to finish on the second row of the grid for Easter Monday's race. 

Kennedy found himself down in 14th at the end of the opening lap of the race and he remained here until the halfway point when he moved into 12th with a late charge eventually placing him ninth, and still well placed in the championship in fifth. 

Robert Kennedy
“Overall I am happy with the result as it's the first time I've ridden the Indy circuit, but at same time I'm slightly disappointed that I could not capitalise on my grid position. 
I struggled a lot in the race at the start, but as the race went on we got better. 
I am looking forward to getting more mileage on the Sandown Racing Kawasaki at a test day at Oulton Park. 
This is another new track for me to learn. 
My thanks to everyone that's made this possible for me. 

Team ILR owner/manager Ian Lougher
"It's always nice to come away from Brands 'Scratch' with everything in one piece. 
It's an enjoyable little track but far too small to be used for BSB racing these days. 
The whole grid of riders is split by a nano second, so everybody tries so hard and with it being so early in the season most riders haven't found a good base setting for their unfamiliar machines. 
For our team, Joey was the only rider who had ridden there before, but 'RK' and young Sam acquitted themselves well with the circuit, with both getting top ten results. 
Joey's times were really good but it's such a hard and fast class he didn't manage a points finish yet, but I feel he is progressing very fast and it's not far away, plus a broken valve in race two didn't help. 
We look forward to Oulton Park next time out now." 

Brands Hatch was another positive step for the team, with the next round at Oulton Park in two weeks time. 
In the meantime the team will be at the Bob Smith Spring Cup meeting at Oliver's Mount, Scarborough this weekend.

Team ILR had their first competitive outing of the season with the first round of the British Superbike Championship season at Donington Park, and for team owner/manager Ian Lougher it was a busy weekend with four riders under his wing. 
Joining Team ILR teamsters Joey Thompson (British Supersport Championship) and Ozzy Madey (National Superstock 600 Championship) were schoolboy Sam Laffins (KTM RC Cup) and Team Sandown's Robert Kennedy (National Superstock 600 Championship) who were benefiting from Lougher's experience and expertise in a coaching and hands-on capacity. 

Practice on Friday was not without its share of issues with Thompson having problems with the gearbox not changing down properly on his Kawasaki. 

In the Stock 600 class Madey and Kennedy were experiencing mixed fortunes with Ozzy looking for a good set-up with his ZX-6, as Kennedy ended the day 9th quickest 0.771 off the top spot but like Madey, not entirely happy with some aspects of his machine, but problems the team were confident of resolving. 

Meanwhile in the KTM RC Cup class, Sam was doing really well as he moved up to 10th quickest in qualifying and confident of a good run in Saturday afternoon's race. 

In contrast to the previous day dry weather, Saturday's action was held in changeable conditions and it was again Kennedy who fared best finishing as he did in 13th position in Superstock 600 qualifying, a session which he led at one stage and one which was curtailed towards the end with the introduction of a red flag. 

Madey unfortunately struggled a bit with a misted visor and spent a lot of the session in the pits. 
The red flag also hampered him on his 'good' lap but to his credit he remained upbeat and determined. 

Thompson meanwhile finished 20th in the Supersport session to take his place on Row 7 of the grid for Sunday's race. 
Running just outside the points for the first two laps of the race, Joey then dropped to 25th but battled back to gain three places at the chequered flag. 

The first of the weekend's three KTM RC Cup races on Saturday saw young Laffins finish in ninth place, a great result in what was his first race in this class and his first time at Donington. 
Sam unfortunately crashed out of Race 2 on Sunday and, despite running on in the third race and having to go up the slip road through no fault of his own and losing a lot of time, he recovered well to finish 17th. 

Robert Kennedy had a great run in the Superstock 600 class to claim fourth, and was the quickest rider through the fifth sector of the circuit. Robert came through brilliantly from ninth on the opening lap to finish one place off the podium. 
Ozzy Madey however was experiencing a rear shock problem on his bike, but battled gamely with two other riders to finish 23rd. 

So a solid start to the season with everyone adjusting to, and gelling well, within the new set-up for 2017 and with lots of info gathered to take into the next round at Brands Hatch in two weeks time. 

Team ILR owner/manager Ian Lougher
"It was a weekend of mixed fortunes for us at Donington, on top of Ozzy's problem with the rear shock on his bike the weather didn't help, as it was it's usual slippery self on Saturday afternoon for qualifying. 
This made finding a good dry setting for a dry Sunday a bit tricky, but considering we've only just started working with the four riders we didn't struggle too much, I think. 
One thing's for sure, we'll be able to improve a lot next time out at Brands Hatch with the knowledge we gained here." 

Joey Thompson: 
"Round 1 was a difficult weekend as we had to solve some problems throughout practice which caused a lack of laps. Unfortunately in the race we had a minor problem with a loose footrest which caused me to drop back after the first lap when we had a lot of potential. 
On the bright side, the bike felt amazing and I beat my PB lap time by 1.2 seconds. 
The team worked amazing and I can't thank all my sponsors enough for making his happen." 

Ozzy Madey: 
"It was a tricky weekend in many ways- we struggled initially to find a good dry setup and found problems with grip when accelerating hard on the side of the tyre. 
We were caught out by a red flag in the latter stages of a damp qualifying that left us languishing in 33rd place on the grid but I knew that we had the pace for mid 20's even with a bike that I wasn't particularly happy with at the time. Come the race the bike did feel very good in the faster parts of the circuit such as Craner curves and the Schwartz / McLean sections although we were still struggling to get into and out of the Esses, and the two hairpins that finish the lap. 
We could have placed 21st at the line but these issues let us down in the 2nd half of the race so I settled for 23rd and a confident start to the season. I'd like to thank the entire ILR team for their efforts this weekend, but particularly Ian, Matt and my parents for their efforts throughout our first meeting together."
Sam Laffins: 
"The weekend started great with qualifying in 10th place and finishing the first race in 9th position and I was lapping only two seconds slower than the leading group.
For the second race I was moved up to 8th position on the grid due to my result in Race 1 but unfortunately on the second lap I slid off at the Old Hairpin which then moved me back to 14th on the grid for the third race.
Unfortunately again, going into Fogarty's, myself and another rider made contact and I ran on to the slip road and lost a lot of time and finished 17th.
I would like to thank Team ILR for their help with the set-up of the bike, I really enjoyed working with Ian and I'm looking forward to Brands Hatch.
I would also like to thank my sponsors for giving me the opportunity to race at this level."

Robert Kennedy: 
"I'm very happy with the result considering it's my first time racing at Donington. I just wished I had a better qualifying position to make things a little easier for myself for the race, but on to Brands which is a track I know, so I'm looking forward to it. Thanks to everybody who has made this opportunity happen, to all the team and the sponsors and of course Team ILR and my family. I would also like to thank everybody for all the good luck and well done messages, I really appreciate it, and thanks for the support."


Team ILR will renew their working relationship with Team Sandown in the 2017 Pirelli National Superstock 600 Championship paddock, a partnership that came close to taking the title last year. 

Team Sandown will run Dundrod's Robert Kennedy in the series on a new Kawasaki ZX-6R, with Team ILR owner/manager Ian Lougher once again on hand to set up suspension, mentor and advise Kennedy, as well as assisting in pit-lane and on the grid. 
In addition to this he will again make the Team ILR awning available as a base for the ambitious Northern Ireland team. 

A front runner in the Irish 600 Supersport Championship for the past couple of seasons, Kennedy will take in a full season in what is a new and exciting challenge for him. 

A mechanic by trade, Robert started off in schoolboy motocross, where he progressed to a high level before turning his attention to short circuit racing in 2009. 

In 2015 he competed at the Ulster Grand Prix at Dundrod, and on what is essentially his home circuit, he scored two brilliant Top 10 places in the Supersport class on his RK Racing Yamaha R6 with an average speed of 125mph. 

It's this type of promise that has drawn him to the attention of Team Sandown who believe that Robert has shown his racing pedigree and is ready to challenge in the ultra-competitive Superstock 600 series, a support class of the British Superbike Championship. 

Robert took in a couple of British Championship meetings last year, just to test the water, and he sees the high standard of racing as something that can only serve to make him a better rider, and he cannot wait for the season to start. 

Team ILR owner/manager Ian Lougher: "I am really looking forward to working with Robert Kennedy (RK) this season and continuing Team ILR's collaboration with Team Sandown. Robert had a few BSB outings in the Supersport category last year where I helped him with his machine set-up, and he showed me he had the ability and determination to produce some decent results. Joining the Superstock 600 class I believe he could be a dark horse once he learns the circuits." 

Robert Kennedy: "I am so thankful for this opportunity to prove to myself that I can race with the top riders in the UK. And whilst I am under no illusions as to the challenge and big learning curve ahead, nevertheless I cannot wait to get the season underway. I am also very much looking forward to working with and learning from Ian Lougher, to say I am excited is an understatement. This wouldn’t be possible without Team Sandown and my sponsors, without whom I would not be able to realise a dream." 

Team Sandown: "We're really looking forward to getting the season underway, and once again working with Ian and his team. We enjoyed our time together last year and we're sure this season will be no different. A big thanks to all the team sponsors that made this happen."




Next Events
Joey Thompson
Pirelli National Superstock 600 Championship
26 - 28 May
Ozzy Madey
Robert Kennedy 

''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
2017 Season
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