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 Laffinscompeting 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."
"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."
"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."
"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."