Oulton Park in Cheshire and the third round of the Hel Motostar British Championship was the latest destination in Team ILR'searly season travels over the May Bank Holiday weekend, with the team looking to build on their consistent points scoring following the first two rounds at Donington Park and Brands Hatch.

A circuit walk with team owner Ian Lougher provided Vasco van der Valk with an invaluable track learning exercise going into the weekend but free practice proved to be a bit of a lottery due to the rain hit second session in which JoeThomas crashed out, and first qualifying looked as though it too was going to be held in wet conditions. 
However as the rain made way for dry sunny spring weather, this did little to brighten things for Thomas!! 
Travelling at speed in fifth gear on only his second lap, the young Welshman was knocked off his bike by Joel Marklund who had almost took him out half a lap previously on the start/finish straight. Thankfully Joe wasn't seriously injured, but it was left to van der Valk to finish the session the highest placed team rider in 13th with Thomas down in 26th through no fault of his own.

Second qualifying would see Vasco improve by almost half a second to finish 14th quickest overall, but with Joe understandably not taking part in the second session, he was left with a mountain to climb from 30th place and the tenth row of the grid.

The team worked tirelessly late into the night to put Joe on the grid and, with only one race this time, it really was a case of no second chances. However, everyone's efforts were rewarded when Joe produced a terrific performance to again finish in the points.

On the opening lap, Thomas gained 13 places to slot into 17th with van der Valk holding his starting position in 14th. A lap later and Joe was in the points and right with his team-mate. By half-race distance Thomas was holding 14th but there was a big gap to the 13th place man, van der Valk meanwhile had dropped out of the points in 17th but there was nothing in it as they diced with Josh Owens and Mike Brouwers.

With 13th position out of reach the battle between the four for 14th was providing terrific entertainment with positions changing with very lap. 
Both the Team ILR lads were giving it everything and at the all important chequered flag it was Thomas with his fastest lap of the race on the last lap at 1:49.446 who clinched the two points, with his team-mate van der Valk riding strongly to also record his fastest lap on the final circuit at 1:49.294 to get the verdict for 15th. 

So, a meeting which saw the team work incredibly hard and maintain their 100% points scoring, with the next round at Snetterton on June 18-21. 

However, in the meantime the team will soon begin preparations for the world famous Isle of Man TT races which begin at the end of this month. Team ILR owner Ian Lougher is looking forward to once again working with Dan Hegarty in association with Downshift Motorsport and also overseeing the official Paton entry with rider Michael Rutter.

Team ILR would like to pass on their grateful thanks to Richard Beaumont for all his help driving the team truck, setting up the awning and helping with Joe's bike following his big crash, it was very much appreciated.

Team ILR owner Ian Lougher: ''Well what an odd weekend that was.. very difficult, challenging and disappointing at times, but we plugged away to find a good set up on Vasco's bike, and repair Joe's bike after a huge crash in Q1, and got both riders in the points once again. 
A massive thank you must go out to Jacko, Matt, Alun and Mic Mac for working tirelessly on Joe's bike after a crazy move was put on Joe on only the 2nd lap of qualifying on the fastest part of the track by Joel Marklund who came past so close he took the handlebar out of Joe's hand.!!!!
I am so glad Joe wasn't seriously injured and at first the bike looked like it was a write off, but after using up just about all our spare parts we managed to get him out in the race and gain some points.''

Joe Thomas:
"Biggest thanks ever to the team for getting the bike ready after disappointingly being knocked off in Q1.
But I enjoyed the race after starting from 30th.

And thank-you to all the sponsors and to everyone who came for support!" 

Vasco van der Valk:  "Another great weekend with Team ILR! Oulton Park is an incredible track, but its not easy to go fast there. The wet practice and the dry one made it quite hard to get to learn the track better and set-up the bike for it, but in the race it all turned out great. The fight for the last points was all I could manage, in a group of four and only two places with points I had to make sure to be in the right place at the finish. I waited a bit in the rear in the last few rounds and overtook two riders in the last one. I wanted to pass Joe as well, but I was just too late to even try that. We both took points and had an amazing battle, so Im quite happy! Only downside to finishing this race is the next one is still 6 weeks away "

Determination and Resolve at Oulton Park 

Posted May 2015