It was very much a weekend to forget for Team ILR at Oulton Park. On Friday the team had three riders in action, and by Sunday afternoon all three were injured in crashes, two of which threatened to be potentially season-ending. Alongside regulars Robert Kennedy(Pirelli National Superstock 600) and Sam Laffins (KTM 390 RC British Junior Cup), the team welcomed back Joey Thompson who returned to the British Supersport grid after making a name for himself on the 'pure road' circuits this season, under the guidance of team boss Ian Lougher.
British Supersport Championship
A week ahead of the Steve Henshaw Gold Cup meeting at Oliver's Mount, Joey decided at the eleventh hour to compete at Oulton, and it's a decision he would later come to regret.
He eased himself back into the highly competitive class by improving by almost two seconds to qualify in 15th position, and in a damp Race 1, he acquitted himself well to finish twelfth after a battle in the latter stages of the race with Ross Twyman.
He was also fifth fastest through two of the speed traps.
Joey moved up three places on the grid for Race 2 on Sunday, and was soon in the mix with three other riders and running in the Top 10.
In really tricky conditions, he had moved up to 7th place on the last lap when he fell heavily and injured his lower back in the process which resulted in a 48-hour stay in hospital, and further medical tests to ascertain the extent of the damage.
KTM 390 RC British Junior Cup
Young Dromara rider Sam Laffins didn't fare much better than his team-mates at Oulton.
His weekend started positively enough with a solid 6th place in Free Practice, but on the second lap of qualifying Sam crashed out but still managed to post the 10th quickest time.
He started the first of the weekend's three races from 15th on the grid, a position determined from the grid from the cancelled second race at Silverstone the previous week.
Sam never got beyond the first lap as he crashed after getting a good start.
Going into Shell Oils corner, he was involved in an accident which resulted in him going down with another rider.
Despite being in a lot of pain, young Laffins bounced back to finish a fine 8th in Race 2 after becoming involved in a terrific six rider scrap for 5th place.
Unfortunately, the two crashes and the effort in Race 2 had taken their toll though, and the sensible decision was taken by Ian, Sam and his dad Sammy to refrain from any further participation.
Pirelli National Superstock 600 Championship
Team Sandown's Robert Kennedy arrived at Oulton Park carrying great momentum from the previous two rounds but unfortunately for the Dundrod rider, his weekend got no further than the ninth lap of Friday's first Free Practice session when he went down heavily on his shoulder sustaining an injury which ruled him out of the rest of the weekend.
So, both a weekend to forget, and also one to remember for all the wrong reasons.
Team ILR owner/manager Ian Lougher:
"Going into Oulton Park both Robert and Sam were really looking to make their mark on things as both were going so well recently.
This weekend they were to be joined in the awning by a returning Joey Thompson in the Supersport 600 Championship races.
To say we are all devastated at Team ILR is an understatement.
RK high-siding in the opening Free Practice 1 session in the wet and injuring his left shoulder after such a great result at Silverstone, is such a massive shame as the bike, suspension wise, engine wise and Robert were all gelling brilliantly.
Sam injured his wrist in both his crashes so had to withdraw from the last race due to the pain in his wrist, despite getting an 8th in Race 2 while clearly hurting.
Joey has had a fantastic year on the so-called "dangerous road circuits" so far this year, so to end up with, at this moment in time, unknown back injuries from a "safe short circuit" meeting, is very ironic.
Until this point, the young Yorkshire man had impressed immensely at Oulton and bettered his personal dry lap times by a fantastic 2 seconds a lap.
So with only two corners to go of the entire weekend and to finish on the floor with such injuries is very sad and frustrating for everyone involved.
The whole team all wish Joey, RK and Sam a speedy recovery."
"Oulton Park wasn't the best of weekends for me and the team.
I started off great getting lots of confidence on the Kawasaki and setting my PB lap time in Qualifying and also getting my best position in the sprint race.
Unfortunately Sunday wasn't my day.
After getting a good start and running in 7th place on the last lap I suffered a big high side, (the worst of my career) I landed on my back and did quite a lot of damage and had to spend 3 days in Stoke Hospital.
I have now had great physio and I'm back hobbling around.
A lot may disagree with my decision, but I have decided to race at the Gold Cup 2017.
It is my home race and is the highlight of my road racing season, it will not be easy and I don't expect to win any races.
I just want to prove to myself and a lot of other people that I'm not here to make the numbers up, and also that with the right mindset and people behind you anything is possible.
With my dad, my sponsors, Paul Jinks, and everyone at Team ILR, I have had such a strong road racing season this year, and I can't leave on a low.
Thanks for all the support and messages."
"Due to an incident in FP1, I sustained an injury to my shoulder which declared me unfit to ride any further at the weekend.
There is nothing broken but I am totally gutted and very disappointed for all at Team Sandown and Team ILR and also my family, friends, and sponsors who made the trip over.
Thanks to everyone for their well-wishes, and hopefully I can get sorted and get back for Brands Hatch for the final round."
"Oulton Park was a hard weekend for me.
I was confident going into qualifying with my dry set-up prepared by Ian, and I knew I had good pace from free practice.
But suddenly the rain came on and, despite not having time to change my set-up, I was still feeling comfortable and pushing in the wet conditions.
Then due to the weather and track conditions, I crashed out at Turn 1 after putting in the 4th fastest lap of the session and then when the session had finished I was sitting in 10th place for Race 2.
I was sore after again crashing in Race 1.
I was immediately taken to the circuit medical center and the doctors x-rayed my wrist and luckily nothing was broken just very badly sprained. So after taking a medical exam to see if I was fit to race, I was passed by the paramedics for Race 2.
I am slowly recovering and will be well and fit for Brands Hatch.
I would like to say a big thank-you to Matt, Jacko, Nigel, and my dad for preparing the bike for race two in such a short time period.
I couldn't have done it without you all."