On a sunny and hot May Bank Holiday weekend, Team ILR arrived at Oulton Park for the third round of the British Superbike Championship season, and it was a four rider team that took part with team owner-manager Ian Loughercompeting in the British Motostar Championship race.
British Supersport Championship
Joey Thompson had a strong start in the first Free Practice session, but the remaining practice and qualifying sessions saw both Joey and his team mate Robert Kennedy struggling in the low teens, their cause not helped by a crash for Joey and the search for a good set-up for Robert, and both started Sunday's Sprint Race from the sixth and seventh rows of the grid.
The opening lap found Robert in the points in 14th with Joey just three places back. On the third lap Kennedy dropped a place and Thompson had moved up to 16th but almost two seconds down on his team-mate.
Ahead of the two, Kurt Wigley then crashed out which moved both riders up a place with Joey beginning to close the gap to a struggling Robert with both riders having to fend off the challenge of Danny Booth.
With two laps to go Joey moved ahead of Robert to claim 13th, and on the last lap Booth got the better of the Dundrod man to sandwich himself between the two Team ILR riders with Kennedy claiming the last championship point.
In terms of race positions, Monday's Feature race was almost a carbon copy of the previous day with Joey and Robert again together on track in the early stages of the race.
Both were riding strongly and as the race entered the closing stages Thompson began to move clear and push for a place in the Top 10 with Kennedy struggling with his Yamaha.
Joey brought it home for a strong 11th place finish with Robert in an equally strong 13th.
British Motostar Championship
Dromara rider Sam Laffins had a team-mate for the Moto 3 round at Oulton in the experienced form of Ian Lougher who was using the meeting to gain the required number of races on his licence for the fast approaching Isle of Man TT races.
Sunday's first race gave Ian the chance to keep a close eye on his young protege, it wasn't a straightforward task though as the Team ILR duo had a race long battle with Franco Bourne and Daniel Brooks with Bourne eventually splitting the two with Sam scoring three standard class points and Ian registering two points in the tuned class on the team's spare standard Moto 3 Honda.
The second race was held in very warm conditions and again with a high track temperature and it was a more uneventful race for both riders with Ian repeating his two points from Race 1 and Sam notching up a fine six points as he continues his climb up the Standard Class Championship table.
Team ILR owner/manager Ian Lougher:
"It was a nice change for everyone to get back to racing is some decent sunshine at Oulton.
RK struggled with finding a set up at first so he was always a session behind, but we found a better suspension setting for the first race but tried to improve it for Monday's race but went backwards a little, but still he was holding a good 11th until the R6 developed a problem with reving properly which dropped him down a few positions.
Joey had an off in Free Practice 2 which was a real shame as although he was able to ride ok it certainly cost him some valuable track time.
But overall he had a good solid weekend, and rounding it off with a great 11th in race two.
Because of the cancellation of the recent Scarborough meeting I had to find somewhere to get in the compulsory two races for my TT licence, and the only meeting I could attend was this weekend's Oulton BSB.
So it was a case of having a run round on the team's spare std Moto 3 machine and get it to the finish.
I must say when your heart's not into racing really it becomes a bit of a hard slog, but the good point was I could observe Sam at close quarters on track and watch his lines and see how he was going.
I have to say I was impressed with the young Dromara lad, he did have a small off in free practice but otherwise was riding really well.
It was nice to see him getting two solid finishes and a smile on his face afterwards."
"Oulton Park was a productive weekend for us as we finally managed to make the jump up to the sharp end of the field.
Breaking the top 10 in FP1 was great for our confidence but a crash on the 2nd lap of FP2 set us back, but after the team worked hard in the evening rebuilding the bike we came back stronger.
I'm happy to leave the UK with 2 strong finishes in British Supersport and now it's time for the North West and Isle of Man TT!
Once again thanks to all the team, all my personal sponsors, dad and all my family for their support!"
"Oulton was a tough weekend for me.
From start to finish I struggled with set-up on the bike and getting comfortable.
Maybe the circuit doesn't suit me but it wasn't from lack of trying from the team and me.
To end the weekend off in the last race we started to lose power just as we had got into the top 10.
I was able to nurse it home for 13th.
Thanks to all the team for working so hard and thanks to all my sponsors."
"Oulton Park was a good weekend for me.
Despite a minor crash in Free Practice, I was still confident of a good showing during the weekend.
It was great having Ian on track with me as he was able to watch my lines etc, and then he gave me invaluable feedback which I can take with me going forward.
Overall I was happy with how things went and I came away with more Championship points under my belt.
A big thank-you to the team and everyone who is supporting me."