Team ILR had their first competitive outing of 2018 when the weather-hit first round of the British Superbike Championship season took place at a bitterly cold Donington Park over the Easter weekend with Joey Thompson and Robert Kennedy in action in the British Supersport Championship. 

Qualifying on Sunday saw Thompson finish among the top dozen riders with Kennedy down in 19th after an off at Starkey's, but he was still less than a second slower than his team-mate with both riders among the fastest five competitors through two of the three speed traps, and later in the day they lined up on the grid for the first of the weekend's two races, the sprint race over eight laps. 

Two laps in and Joey and Robert were together on track in 12th and 13th with Kennedy moving ahead on the next lap. 
At two-thirds distance the Dundrod man moved into the Top 10 and a lap later he was up to 8th as Thompson began to struggle with an over-heating engine on his Kawasaki. 

For the last two laps Kennedy was involved in a tussle with fellow Yamaha mounted Danny Booth with the latter grabbing 8th place from Robert who finished in a brilliant ninth on a track he only saw for the first time last season. 
Joey meanwhile nursed his bike home for a fine points finish in 12th. 

The feature Race 2 on Monday was badly affected by the weather with the race eventually getting the go ahead, but unfortunately Robert wasn't able to repeat his great ride from the previous day. 

Before the start of the race there was a problem with his Yamaha and although he started the race he had to admit defeat and retire after three laps with clutch problems. 

This left Joey as the team's sole rider in the race but the young Yorkshire rider had it all to do from the fifth row of the grid and eventually finished in a safe and mature 19th place in extremely tricky conditions. 

The action moves from Donington to Brands Hatch in two weeks time.

Team ILR owner-manager Ian Lougher
"After one of the coldest meetings I can ever remember, it's a relief to be leaving the first round with the riders and bikes in one piece to be honest. It was a mixed weekend for both riders. 
After a crash at Starkeys on Saturday, Robert slowly got his confidence back and had a fantastic ride through the field from 19th to 9th in the sprint race.
Joey was unlucky to have an over heating engine but still brought it home in 12th. 
To be very honest, if it hadn't have stopped raining and dried a little for the second race, my advice was to park the bikes as it was just outright dangerous to be out there on such a water logged and ever changing and unpredictable track. 
But fortunately it dried and although everybody chose wets on the damp track they both decided to race. 
RK had an issue with his clutch this time so retired and Joey brought it home in a very sensible 19th place finish. 
But overall we're all glad to see the back of Donington...maybe the organisers should look at a different one of their "many" tracks to host the first round of the series in a very cold March, as they have plenty to choose from..just a thought!!"

Joey Thompson
"We struggled a lot at Donington for Round 1 but we got a load of laps in, in the iffy conditions. 
Unfortunately we had a bad feature race which was my own fault and no one to blame. I just couldn't find the confidence and get into a groove on the slippery track. 
But we are taking all the positives from the weekend and leaving the rash behind us and moving onto Brands Hatch with a fresh head and ready to fight for a good result. 
Thanks to all Team ILR, Thompsons and all my personal sponsors for making it possible.
Another thank-you to my friends and supporters for braving the cold and rain to watch me." 

Robert Kennedy
"First round of the British Championship was a cold one but nevertheless it was good to get back out on the bike.
Qualifying in P19 for the sprint race, I made my way up to P9 which I didn't think would have been possible.
For the main race on the Monday I started 12th but had a problem before the race started. I tried to run with it for some laps but just started to drop back and in the end I pulled in so I wouldn't damage the bike any further. 
A massive thank-you to all my team and sponsors, and we will look forward to Round 2 at Brands Hatch."


       April 2018