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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."
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