Strong Motostar Debut at Donington for Team ILR

Team owner Ian Lougher has taken Team ILR in a new direction in the premier domestic championships in 2015 and, despite being a respected and successful presence in the BSB paddock for the last five years, with two new riders and completely new bikes the first two races in the Hel Motostar British Championship at Donington Park over Easter were something of a step into the unknown.  

However after Donington, it's apparent that Lougher and his team are not just there to make up the numbers as Joe Thomas and Vasco van der Valk more than gave a good account of themselves to come away fifth and joint eighth in the championship respectively after two great results each over the course of the weekend.

Despite relatively limited pre-season testing, it was evident during free practice and qualifying that Vasco and Joe have both settled comfortably into their new team, and they rode strongly to put their bikes on the fifth row of the grid, 13th and 14th quickest in a field of 37 entrants.

As Race One got underway on Easter Sunday it was Thomas who initially took up the challenge to settle into fifth place at the end of the opening lap, with van der Valk in tenth. 

One lap later Joe found himself in third with Vasco starting to progress through the field in eighth.
As the race unfolded, Thomas became embroiled in a three rider scrap for third with van der Valk in turn also battling with two other riders for sixth, just over half a second off his team-mate's group.

In the closing stages the Thomas group fragmented a bit and Joe only just lost contact, but with over two seconds to spare back to the next rider the young Welshman brought it home for an impressive fifth place finish. Vasco meanwhile had also rode well to finish an equally impressive seventh.

The following day's second race saw both Team ILR riders on the second row of the grid, an excellent achievement in itselfThis time however both were slightly further back as the field crossed the line on the first of 14 laps with Thomas in 9th and van der Valk in 13th.

By lap four both were in the same positions with Joe over two seconds ahead of his team-mate, however as the race reached two thirds distance Vasco had closed to within a second of Joe with the two now in the middle of some six riders all battling for seventh place.

It was impossible to predict who would come out on top, but with a lap to go Joe and two other riders had broke clear slightly and in the run to the line it was Thomas on the second Honda home who claimed seventh, with Vasco finishing well clear in twelfth and just over half a second off another top ten finish. 
Both Vasco and Joe recorded their fastest laps on the last circuit, a testament to their competitive spirit and determined but safe riding, as the race entered the all important closing stages.

So a highly promising debut, from which there were many positives to take to the next round at Brands Hatch in two weeks time. 

Team owner Ian Lougher
''Great results from the boys.
I'm really pleased with both ladsthey showed real maturity and used their heads to secure some brilliant results for the team. We at Team ILR are now looking forward to working with Joe and Vasco at Brands.''

Joe Thomas: "So happy with the weekend, a big thanks to the team and my sponsors.
The bikes were amazing, the team was great and the results were mega.
A brilliant start to the season with Team ILR, and I look forward to building upon it at the next round at Brands Hatch." 

Vasco van der Valk: "What a great start that was.
Since it was my first race with Team ILR we are so happy with how things turned out, with a great 7th and 12th place as a result.
As well as the results, I felt great in the team with Ian and my mechanic Matt Jackson making the Honda run so good and helping me with getting to know the bike and improving the set-up.
Thanks to all at Team ILR and my sponsors, and to Stena Line for bringing us back and forth so quick and easy."


Team ILR owner Ian Lougher at Donington Park with riders Vasco van der Valk and Joe Thomas.


Strong Motostar Debut at Donington for Team ILR 

Posted April 2015