*Ian Lougher TRACK DAYS*
Learn from one of the best and hone your riding skills to the highest level at our newly announced track days for 2019 at Pembrey in Wales, where you will be under the guidance of ten times TT winner and widely acknowledged racing legend Ian Lougher.
Dates as follows ~
June 15th and 16th
September 14th and 15th
*Track Day Discount is available for Ian Lougher Racing Supporters Club members*
(Details to be announced shortly)
For further details email email@example.com
Team ILR are delighted to announce that experienced Japanese riders Tatsuya Yamaguchi and Masayuki Yamanaka will link up with the team during the 2019 season. Tatsuya will compete in the first two rounds of the British Supersport Championship at Silverstone and Oulton Park, whilst Masayuki will join the team for this year's Isle of Man TT races where he will be on board the Team ILR ZX-6 Kawasaki.
Masayuki Yamanaka is no stranger to the Isle of Man and he created history in 2015 when he was the first rider from Japan to step on to a Manx GP podium, after finishing a brilliant second in the Newcomers C race. He also registered a ninth place finish in the Lightweight event and was second best newcomer that year.
The 2016 Manx GP saw Yamanaka finish a very respectable 26th place in the Junior and Senior races with a personal best lap of 114.371 mph.
No doubt inspired by the heroics of Suzuki mounted Mitsuo Ito in the 1963 50cc TT (to date the only rider from Japan to win an Isle of Man TT) and many of his fellow countrymen before him, Masayuki loves the TT and in 2017 he overcame many previous obstacles, including a life threatening accident in his mid-40's, to finally realise his dream and make his debut at the world famous event where he finished 49th in the first Monster Energy Supersport race and lapping at just over 115mph. However he was to find the 2018 event challenging with a 56th place finish in the opening Supersport race and a DNF in the second.
Running his own team in recent years with a CBR 600 Honda, Masayuki feels he has more to offer around the 37.75 miles Mountain Circuit, and he has turned to the vast experience of ten-times TT winner Ian Lougher and his team to give him the extra push and guidance he feels is necessary to realise his full potential.
Tatsuya Yamaguchi certainly brings an impressive CV with him, and he has had one off rides at Moto GP (250cc in 1999 and Moto 2 in 2010) and at World Supersport level in 2002, the same year he won the MFJ All Japan JSB1000 Championship.
He was also the MFJ All Japan ST600 champion in 2010, successfully defending his title in 2011, and he has also competed in the MFJ All Japan GP250 Championship, the MFJ All Japan J-GP2 Championship, the Asia SS600 Championship and the MFJ All Japan JSB1000 Championship.
For his two appearances with Team ILR, Tatsuya will have a newly built Yamaha R6 at his disposal.
Team ILR owner-manager Ian Lougher:
"Team ILR have been talking to Tatsuya Yamaguchi for quite a number of years now regarding him trying some BSB events, but he had an ongoing contract with another manufacturer so it meant he had to ride for them in the UK, this made it very difficult for us to supply him with a relevant machine.
I have the utmost respect for Tatsuya as I know he has the speed to potentially rock the established stars at BSB level, but of course this puts some pressure on us to supply him with a really competitive bike.
Nonetheless we will put all our efforts into this and give him his best chance possible.
I think Yamanaka has struggled with chassis set up the last two visits to the Isle of Man, and this really does zap your confidence when you set off down Bray Hill.
I like to think with Team ILR's knowledge and past experience and rider nurturing, we can bring his confidence level up which will allow him to bring his lap times down in a safe manner."
"I have wanted to compete some overseas racing for long time, so I am very happy to making it happen even 2 rounds of BSB.
I have been talking to Ian Lougher since few years ago, but I thought time has come in this year.
I know BSB is high level, so it is a challenge to raise my skills up, and also I want to learn various things.
Then I hope if some young riders of my own team t2y want to challenge BSB in the future, I want to make the way for them too.
I have never thought about retire from riding yet.
So I will race with my whole body and soul to raise my riding skill."
"I am extremely happy to be able to compete isle of Man TT with the team of Ian Lougher who I respect.
I trust him and his team, so I am not concerned anything about the races at all.
I will do my best with all my strength for the sake of everybody who is supporting me and for myself !"
Kennedy at the Double.
The annual Sunflower Trophy Races brought the 2018 season to a close for Team ILR and the team went out on a high with Robert Kennedy claiming a brace of Supersport race wins with two superb performances.
Kennedy also took the Team ILR / Mark Coverdale Paton to two strong fifth place finishes in the Supertwins races to round out what was a very satisfying weekend for the Dundrod rider who has endured a frustrating second half of the season after being injured in a British Supersport Championship crash at Snetterton in June.
Another rider who has had an injury affected year is Connall Courtney, and the young Warrenpoint rider did well on his return after aggravating old wrist injuries at Oulton Park in 2017 which has resulted in very limited track time for the 20 year old.
The team arrived at the Bishopscourt circuit in Co. Down in determined mood and Robert immediately was on the pace in the Supersport class finishing second in both qualifying sessions to start the first of Saturday's two races on the front row of the grid.
In the Supertwins class he eased himself into the seat of the unfamiliar Paton with eighth in the first session and improved by almost two seconds in the second session to head the second row of the grid for Race 1.
Courtney meanwhile had put the Honda on to the second row of the grid for the Moto 3/GP125 race and he would go on to finish with two impressive Top 10 finishes including a sixth in Race 2.
The first Supersport race was shaping up for a battle between Kennedy, Richard Kerr and Jason Lynn when it was stopped after four laps with just 0.37 seconds between them, and on the re-start Robert quickly seized the initiative to lead by 0.84s at the end of the opening lap of five from Kerr and Aaron Clifford.
Kennedy was flying and he set what would be the fastest lap of the race at 96.46mph on Lap 2 to edge away further.
At the halfway stage he led by 1.44 seconds from Kerr with Clifford dropping back, and at the flag he extended his advantage slightly to take the honours.
The second Supersport race can only be described as a cracker, with Kennedy, Kerr and Lynn treating the large crowd to a real autumn treat.
Robert led at the end of the first lap and then Kerr took over at the front with Kennedy regaining the lead by the halway point.
Lynn meanwhile had also joined the party, having come from sixth on the first lap with the next rider Aaron Clifford some five seconds back, and the three pacesetters continued their battle to the line as Robert determinedly held his nerve to bring the R6 Yamaha home for a very popular double Supersport win and just rewards after what has been a frustrating period for him.
It was Team ILR's sponsor and good friend Chris Morton's wish that 'RK' should have an outing on the Team ILR/Mark Coverdale Paton S1-R before the season drew to a close, and Bishopscourt provided that opportunity as Robert and Team ILR took the bike to two brilliant fifth place finishes in the Supertwin races, with performances that were all the more impressive given that it was Robert's first time on the Paton and it was also the bike's short circuit debut.
Sadly 'Morty' recently passed away and didn't see his wish fulfilled, but we are in no doubt that he would have been proud of everyone's team effort and professionalism.
Team ILR owner-manager Ian Lougher:
"It was the second weekend in a row where we were reacquainting our ties with an ex-rider of ours with Connall joining us for the Sunflower meeting.
Considering he has't raced since April, Connall had a good couple of races, getting quicker lap by lap and lapped quicker than the bike has ever been around Bishopcourt, which was some achievement considering his lap of track time.
RK was back on form after his knee injury from June which has plaqued him a lot.
His two wins on his R6 were great races to watch and he handled the pressure well and got quite near the lap record too, top man.
On the Mark Coverdale Paton in the first race he had to ride without first gear working, so he did well to bring it home in 5th.
In the second race we tried a different suspension set up and it didn't quite work as we had hoped and another 5th place finish was its maximum. But it was great to be able to give it its first race on short circuits, where unlike on the roads you don't get so much time to experiment with various options.
So that's it for 2018, we've had a fairly good season as a team, but as usual there always seems to be one thing or another to upset the apple cart and this leaves you feeling a bit down.
But I've been in this sport for 37 seasons now and as they say 'it's never easy hi, otherwise everybody would be doing it.'
So we'll crack on and come back fighting in 2019.
I'd like to thank everyone who has supported us, our sponsors, fans, mechanics, PR man and especially my wife Asa for putting up with me.
Also best wishes to all the families and loved ones who have lost riders and had to deal with injuries."
"What a rollercoaster of a season it's been for me, we've had some good times but a lot of low moments and I would just thank to thank everyone who has made this season possible for me to be able to race.
Was so nice to get a run on the Mark Coverdale/Team ILR Paton, a massive thanks to Mark and Ian for giving me the opportunity, it was brilliant fun to ride as we managed two 5th places on it. Also it was so nice to win both Supersport 600 races, but they didn't come easy.
Again a massive thank-you to all my team for making this possible, all my sponsors/family and friends, and of course Team ILR and Geoffy Barnes for working with me all weekend."
"I really enjoyed the Sunflower Trophy races it's a meeting I've some good memories of over the years, and this year's event was fantastic with the large crowd and good weather.
It was great to be back on the Team ILR Moto 3 Honda that I rode in 2016 and considering the time I have been out of the sport I was happy with my performances, it has given me the confidence and drive to push forward towards the 2019 season.
A massive thank-you to Ian Lougher for giving me the opportunity for a one-off ride with the team, and to my sponsors Modern Tyres and Brian Jones at Mototech who have stayed alongside me despite the absence, and of course my family for maintaining their support for me."
The curtain came down on Team ILR's British Championship season at the weekend with the final round at Brands Hatch where regular campaigner Robert Kennedy was joined in the Dickies British Supersport Championship by Vasco van der Valk who was making a welcome return to the team having ridden for Team ILR in the 2015 British Motostar Championship.
Practice saw van der Valk getting acclimatised to the unfamiliar ZX-6 Kawasaki and both he and team-mate Kennedy finished a damp first session inside the Top 20 with just 0.011s between them.
A drier second session allowed Robert to climb to 14th quickest with Vasco settling in nicely on the Kawasaki in 22nd but less than a second off a Top 15 place.
Vasco then went well over half a second faster to finish qualifying in 20th with Robert two places ahead in 18th for Saturday's Sprint race, a race that would see the young Dutch rider crash out in spectacular style at Hawthorn Bend on the third lap after being taken out by another rider.
It was a nasty crash with red-flags rightly introduced, and amidst genuine concern Vasco was flown to hospital in London where miraculously, and thankfully, he was found to be not seriously injured and he was able to return to Brands with the team later that evening.
Under difficult circumstances Kennedy knuckled down and did well to finish 17th in the re-started race, battling with three riders with only 0.4 seconds separating them.
Unfortunately Robert's weekend also came to a premature conclusion when he crashed out of Sunday's second race in wet conditions.
The 2018 season will conclude this weekend for the team at the Sunflower Trophy races at Bishopscourt.
Team ILR owner-manager Ian Lougher:
"It was really great to work with young Vasco again after a 3 year absence. Despite the first session being wet/damp conditions which obviously spoils things a little with set up time for the dry, and him never ridden a Kawasaki ZX6 before, Vasco lapped faster on the Team ILR 600 than he had on his own Yamaha 600 back in July, which was pleasing for him and the team.
Unfortunately in Saturday's race getting rammed from behind at 130mph at Hawthorn Bend by another rider which resulted in him getting a helicopter ride to hospital wasn't the best way to finish his meeting with us.
Thankfully he was allowed to go home later in the evening with only minor abrasions.
RK had a mixed meeting also, and after a good ride in Saturday's race coming home in a creditable 17th position improving his lap times lap by lap resulting in him breaking into the 1m 29 bracket.
Unfortunately in Sunday's race in the dire conditions, where most of the field hit the deck Robert was amongst them and bit the dirt coming out of Graham Hill bend, thankfully unhurt.
It really was just one of those weekends!"
"It was an up and down weekend for me, struggling a lot mentally with not having a lot of confidence in riding and with bike set up.
We had a good race in Race 1 and ended up 17th, not where I want to be but with bike changes and not being on the bike in 4 weeks it was nice to battle for some points.
Race 2 we made more changes to the bike but the rain came and I ended up coming off half way through the race.
But it was nice to back on the bike and hopefully I can soon get back to riding like I know how.
Massive thanks to Team ILR and all my sponsors who keep me going every weekend."
Vasco van der Valk:
"Hard day in the office in Bennetts British Superbike Championship last weekend.
But still was great to be back riding fast, being in that paddock again and experience how everyone helps out when things get rough in racing.
Mostly ok now, some small injuries left but will be good.
Thanks to all for the amazing help and kind messages, and thanks a lot for the professional and caring team after this nasty crash: Ian, Asa, Richard, Jacko and all the others who did a great job in helping to get to grips with the new bike and after bad luck hit us.
Hope to be back in the future someday!"
Team News ~ Sunflower Trophy Races
Team ILR will conclude the 2018 season at this weekend's Sunflower Trophy Races at Bishopscourt where another familiar face will re-join the team for the event.
The rider in question is ex-Irish and Ulster 125/300 Production short circuit champion Connall Courtney who rode for Team ILR in 2016 when he made his British Motostar Championship debut on the team's Moto 3 bike and, like many young riders before him, he was another to benefit and mature from the guidance of team boss Ian Lougher.
Warrenpoint rider Courtney will again link up with the Honda at Bishopscourt and joining him will be regular team rider Dundrod's Robert Kennedy who will ride the immaculate Team ILR / Mark Coverdale Paton S1-R.
It was Team ILR's sponsor and friend Chris Morton's wish that Kennedy should have an outing on the bike before the season draws to a close, sadly 'Morty' passed away a few weeks ago and won't see his wish fulfilled, but he'll be very much in our thoughts and with us in spirit as Robert takes to the Co. Down circuit on the Italian bike.
In addition to the Paton ride, 'RK' will also be in action on his R6 Yamaha.
Team Announcement ~ Brands Hatch
Team ILR are delighted to announce that talented young Dutch rider Vasco van der Valk will renew his links with the team for a one-off ride in the final round of the BSB British Supersport Championship at Brands Hatch this weekend.
The 18 year old from Amersfoort last rode for the team in 2015 when he finished a superb eighth in the British Motostar Championship with seven Top 6 finishes to his credit, and he had the distinction of being the only rider in the series to score points in every race.
Working closely with Ian Lougher and Team ILR, 2015 was a season that saw Vasco go from strength to strength, maturing from a 15 year old lad at the start of the season who lacked a bit of confidence and set up knowledge, into a seasoned confident professional.
Following an injury-hit 2016 season, van der valk has since gone on to compete strongly in the German IDM Supersport Championship where he recently finished 8th overall in the 2018 season, a placing that would have been higher but for some bad luck in the final round at Hockenheim.
At Brands, Vasco will have the Team ILR/ Mark Coverdale ZX6 Kawasaki at his disposal along with the renowned 100% support from the team.
Team ILR owner-manager Ian Lougher :
"We had a great working relationship with Vasco in 2015 in our first year in British Motostar. He started as a fairly green 15 year old, managing to get some Top 15 results and matured into a rider regularly frequenting the Top 6 with ease. Vasco was always a professional and we look forward to welcoming him back on our Team ILR/Mark Coverdale ZX6."
At Team ILR we were deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Chris Morton on Monday September 10th.
"Morty" as he was affectionately known, was a long time friend and sponsor of Team ILR and he will be sadly missed.
Morty's funeral will take place on Wednesday September 26th at 11am in Coychurch Crematorium, Brigend, South Wales. and our thoughts are very much with his family and many friends at this difficult time.
Team ILR owner-manager.
The British Superbike season paid a second visit to Oulton Park at the weekend with Team ILR again fielding regular team members Robert Kennedy and Joey Thompson in the British Supersport Championship.
Despite a big crash at the same circuit last season, Oulton is one of Thompson's favourite circuits and he was hopeful of a good showing to match his performances there in May. Kennedy by his own admission seems to struggle at the Cheshire venue, with Oulton being only his second British Supersport activity since his crash at Snetterton in June as he continues to work on his fitness, confidence and race sharpness.
Qualifying was held in dry conditions with spots of rain reported at Sector 3 and Robert finished 18th with Joey 24th. Saturday's Sprint Race saw both riders involved in a terrific scrap for 18th in the early stages involving another four riders, with Joey sitting at the back of the group watching as positions constantly changed in front of him.
Robert meanwhile was at the head of the group and battling with GP2 rider Jorel Boerboom until the 7th lap when the Dutch rider opened up a one second gap which he held for the next few laps.
On Lap 10 Matthew Wigley also got past the Dundrod man followed on the last lap by Richard Kerr as Robert and Joey took the chequered flag in 20th and 21st with just 0.10s separating them.
If Saturday's Sprint race threw up some exciting action, Sunday's Feature race was unfortunately the opposite in the wet and tricky conditions.
After a few early race dices, and a mid-race battle with Darren Cooper, Joey had a relatively lonely ride in the closing stages to come home in 22nd (19th in Supersport).
Robert meanwhile did not find the conditions to his liking.
For the second race the team made a small change which was better, but he found he had no rear grip and after nearly parting company with his R6 a few tmes he called it a day after four laps.
The season concludes for the team at the final round at Brands Hatch in October.
Team ILR owner - manager Ian Lougher:
"With both Robert and Joey recently returning to Short Circuit action we were hoping for dry consistent weather throughout the weekend in order that they could get back up to speed after so much time out recently.
Unfortunately the heavens opened just when we didn't want them to, resulting in lowly qualifying spots and untried set ups on the Team ILR machines.
But in Race 1 they got stuck in a dog fight with a few out brakers and couldn't find a good rhythm.
Race 2 was wet and RK pitted with a lack of confidence on an experimental suspension set up. Joey had a lack of rear grip but otherwise was gracious of the track time given to him by our long time team sponsor Mark Coverdale in stepping in to support him finishing off the year."
"Oulton Park was another learning curve for me, with it only being my second Round back we did okay in practice but qualifying I had a few new settings to try but the rain came down before I got a fast lap in.
A big mistake from my own side.
I had a great battle in the race but was still way down the field.
The team has worked extremely hard throughout the weekend and it's a shame I couldn't repay them with the results but once again thanks to all at Team ILR and Mark Coverdale for making it happen."
"Not too much to say about the weekend as I struggled from start to finish in wet or dry.
However it was good to be back out riding again, but I couldn't get comfortable with the bike and struggled a lot with some ongoing injuries from my crash at Snetterton. Hopefully Brands will be a bit better.
Thanks to Team ILR and all my sponsors."
Silverstone was the latest stop in Team ILR's busy season and the team were delighted to welcome back Robert Kennedy who returned after a 12 week injury lay-off to partner Joey Thompson in the British Supersport Championship.
Joey himself was returning to the championship after a summer spent concentrating on the roads.
Both riders used Free Practice to feel their way back into action but Robert still managed to post the 11th quickest Supersport time in the first session with Joey 22nd quickest of the 600's, and the second session would see both riders improve their times with Thompson in particular upping his speed.
Unfortunately qualifying took place in damp conditions which gave both riders no chance of a further improvement and it was Robert who fared better in the session to finish 19th for a 7th row start in Saturday's Sprint race with Joey in 28th.
Two laps into the 18-lap Sprint race and it was Thompson who got the better start to move up two places to 21st with Kennedy having had a bad start lying three places and 2.5 seconds behind his team-mate, however at third race distance Robert was making progress and was up into 22nd, with Joey one place ahead by 0.89s and at the halfway point the two had their sights on Dutch GP2 competitors Jorel Boerboom and Mike Brouwers.
It was Kennedy who first got ahead of Brouwers on Lap 11 followed a lap later by Joey, as Robert then passed and moved clear of Boerboom who managed to keep Joey at bay as both Team ILR riders took the chequered flag 17th and 18th respectively in the Supersport class.
Robert and Joey's performances in ther Sprint race moved them both up the grid for Sunday's Feature race which soon saw Kennedy in contention with a group of riders for a Top 10 placing.
However the rear tyre on his R6 Yamaha began to cut up badly and he had no choice but to back off the pace, despite this he came home 14th (12th in the Supersport class) to bring his weekend to a positive conclusion as he looks to finish the season strongly.
Thompson meanwhile was involved in his own battle further back with Matthew Wigley with the two battling it out for most of the 26 lap race, it was a battle from which Joey came out on top to claim 16th in the Supersports.
The action moves to Oulton Park this weekend.
Team ILR owner/manager Ian Lougher:
"It was always going to be a catch up weekend for both Joey and Robert. Joey has been busy with his pure road racing exploits which means he hasn't ridden on the short circuits since Oulton Park in May, which definitely affected him, taking the first two sessions to get confident again and push like the others do from week to week.
But he dug deep on his Mark Coverdale backed ZX6 and had two good races on quite an aggressive and attacking track to ride.
Oulton beckons next week and he likes the track a lot so should be strong there.
RK was in a similar situation having had to sit out the last 4 rounds due to a serious knee injury picked up at the Snetterton round in June.
He found it hard to get a good setting on the R6 especially with qualifying being wet and very greasy, so ending up 23rd on the grid really hurt his potential in the dry. Come Sunday though we found a great setting on the bumpy track for him and he was up to 11th with 5 or so laps to go when he had to back off due to a vibration from the rear tyre which was breaking up, so he was very lucky to bring it home in a very sensible 14th place and the bike in one piece, unlike some of the others who weren't so lucky and crashed out due to the same problem."
"It was great to be back racing again after being injured at Snetterton.
I didn't think I would be back so soon, but thanks to everyone who helped with my recovery to get back on a bike.
During the weekend we struggled with bike issues, but my dad and Willie and Ian worked hard all weekend to get them sorted. I've enjoyed being back on the bike this weekend and hopefully I can look forward to the remainder of the Championship.
Thanks to all at Team ILR and all my sponsors, I couldn't do this without them."
"The first weekend back at BSB after the roads was never going to be the easiest and Silverstone put me to the test!!
Setting up a bike I've not ridden since May, various weather conditions and a new track meant I qualified 28th for the Sprint Race (definitely not my best) and moving to 23rd on the grid for the Feature Race on Sunday I had some work to do.
But finishing 16th overall in Race 2, I'm happy with the results.
Now I'm looking forward to Oulton Park next weekend with Team ILR, a favourite track of mine in the BSB calendar.
A huge thanks to Mark Coverdale and all my personal sponsors for getting me on track."
Team ILR owner-manager Ian Lougher rolled back the years at Dundrod with his 51st podium around the famous circuit thanks to a superb third place finish in the Supertwin race.
It was also his 41st podium finish at the Ulster Grand Prix as he closes in on the late Joey Dunlop's tally of 44.
Lougher's competitive return to the event after a five year absence was greeted with a universal and genuine warm welcome for one of the event's outstanding competitors, and he soon showed he had lost none of his sharpness around the 7.4 miles circuit.
In an opening Supertwin qualifying session he registered the tenth quickest time and clocked the fastest speed through the speed trap at 158.1mph despite a clutch problem on his Paton. His young team-mate and protege Joey Thompson went two places better in eighth, and a 9th in the Supersport and 5th in the Lightweight class by Thompson cemented a good first practice/qualifying day for the team.
Wednesday's showery first day of action gave way, at least initially, to bright sunshine on Thursday morning and Joey finished the Supersport standings as 13th quickest.
He then topped the Lightweight session to put himself on pole for the afternoon's race and he was also the man to catch down the 'Flying Kilo' being quickest in both sessions through the speed trap.
Ominous looking clouds over Lough Neagh soon brought heavy rain to the circuit just as the Supersport race started and the Clerk of the Course Noel Johnston wisely brought a halt to proceedings.
A lengthy delay ensued as the rain continued with standing water becoming a concern, not to mention the 'river' of water in the Team ILR awning!
It was well past 6pm as the Superwins took to the circuit with Adam McLean grabbing an early lead closely pursued by Christian Elkin as the two quickly pulled clear of the chasing pack including, from the third row of the grid, Lougher in fourth and Thompson 2.5 seconds back in sixth.
On the second lap a three-way battle for third was shaping up between Michael Sweeney, Davey Todd and Ian, with Joey watching the action from sixth on the second Paton.
On lap three, McLean had pulled away and would go on to take the win from Elkin, but the excitement was the dice for third with half a second covering Todd, Lougher and Sweeney.
As they went on to their last lap, Lougher had moved into third and he was able to use the speed of the Paton down the Flying Kilo to maintain the advantage towards Leathemstown.
Calling on all his guile and experience in the tricky conditions, Ian led out of the Lindsay Hairpin and the crowd cheered him on through the Quarries section as he brilliantly held on to cross the line a very popular third with under two tenths of a second covering the trio.
Joey meanwhile had rode consistently to round off the Top 6 and he was also the fastest rider through the Flying Kilo speed trap at 154.8mph with Ian joint second fastest on 152mph along with Michael Sweeney and Xavier Denis.
The Supersport bikes were out next and Conor Cummins and Adam McLean soon pulled away from Davey Todd and Dean Harrison who were battling for third with Peter Hickman clear in fifth.
From the fourth row of the grid, Joey had got himself into a five rider battle for sixth with Dominic Herbertson, Christian Elkin, Neil Kernohan and Paul Jordan. At half distance one second covered the riders from sixth to tenth, and at the flag Joey superbly came up trumps to take sixth just ahead of Elkin and Herbertson with fractions of a second covering the three at the line.
The unpredictable nature of motorcycle racing was evident in the next race however as Joey took to the track for the Lightweight race on his 250cc Yamaha.
Joey was one of the race favourites but his race never got beyond the warm-up lap as he got caught out in the tricky conditions and crashed out at Leathemstown resulting in a visit to hospital where a broken toe was discovered, however he was passed fit to race by the doctors.
Saturday race day will be remembered for the wrong reasons as early sunshine gave way to overcast conditions which soon reflected the mood in the paddock following the opening Superstock and Superbike races which were both red-flagged due to crashes.
The re-started Superbike race then fell victim to the conditions, as did the Lightweight/Ultra-Lightweight race and the only race to run the distance was the first Supersport race which saw Peter Hickman dominate as he led from start to finish ahead of Lee Johnston and Conor Cummins.
It was a race which saw three battles raging in the top ten with Team ILR's Joey Thompson involved in a titanic tussle for eighth with Dan Cooper, Christian Elkin, Darren Cooper and Dominic Herbertson.
Showing no ill-effects of his crash less than 48 hours previously, Joey rode brilliantly and was just pipped for 7th by the tightest of margins by Dan Cooper, with Herbertson right behind in 9th and Elkin rounding out the Top 10.
As the afternoon wore on the weather deteriorated further, with rain and poor visibility at the back and highest part of the circuit, and after lengthy delays the organisers took the only course of action they could and cancelled the remainder of the meeting.
So a very challenging Ulster Grand Prix 2018 for all concerned, and in closing the thoughts of everyone at Team ILR are with the family and friends of Fabrice Miguet who tragically lost his life following a crash in the Superstock race, and we wish a speedy recovery to the other riders who were injured during the event.
Team ILR owner-manager Ian Lougher:
"With Joey getting best newcomer last year he was obviously quite excited to see how he would get on on his return visit to Dundrod.
Riding his ZX6 and the Team ILR Paton he qualified 13th overall on the 600 and 10th on the Italian Paton.
We had a few clutch issues on both of the Paton's in practice but managed to fix them for Thursday's race.
Although I don't like it when people decide to make comebacks in racing I couldn't resist the chance to ride our team sponsor Mark Coverdale's beautiful Paton twin around Dundrod.
It's been 5 years since I raced there and I was really looking forward to riding it again.
The biggest problem I had was being over cautious on the opening lap as we had to fit a brand new unscrubbed rear wet after the warm up lap, but I had a good dice with Michael Sweeney and Davy Todd for third place from which I was well pleased to get on the rostrum.
Joey had a very sensible race in the tricky conditions coming home in 6th place.
For the 600 races which were run in much drier conditions he rode really well and we were over the moon with his 6th and 8th place finishes."
"Ulster GP was difficult for us and probably a lot of the teams with the constant change of conditions, but as a team we stayed calm and worked really well and had a great set up for both conditions.
I had a good run in both 600 races but just didn't have the pace in the wet on the Supertwin.
I don't know where we go from here, but I want to say a massive thanks to Team ILR for their help and support, Mark Coverdale and also my dad for sticking behind me.
Team ILR will have a two rider presence at the 2018 Ulster Grand Prix when Ian Lougher returns to the event in August to partner Joey Thompson in the Supertwin class on the Team ILR/Mark Coverdale Patons.
Ian is one of the most successful riders ever around the historic Dundrod circuit having notched up 18 race wins, second only to Joey Dunlop in the all-time list of winners, and he is also just one podium placing behind Dunlop on 43.
He took his first Ulster GP win in 1998 in the opening 250cc race, although his first podium was six years previously in the 1992 125cc race, a class he went on to win four times as well as tasting victory over the following years in the Superbike, Superstock/Production, Supersport and 250cc classes.
Only 11 riders have claimed three or more victories at Dundrod in one day and Lougher has the distinction of claiming a double hat-trick of race wins in 2002 and 2005 respectively.
And it's not the only type of treble he has enjoyed at Dundrod, having picked up the Man of the Meeting Award on three occasions in 2002, 2003 and 2005.
In the 2002 Superbike race, Ian broke the existing lap record on the fourth lap with a speed of 127.82 mph to finally better Tom Herron's 127.63mph lap at the 1978 North-West 200, thereby elevating the Ulster Grand Prix to the status of being the Fastest Road Race in the British Isles at that time.
Subsequentlly, he went on to become a member of the '130mph plus' Club with a lap of 130.873mph in the 2012 Superstock race, and his 125cc race record of 110.719mph on the Barnes/Jackson Racing 125 Honda in 2009 still stands as the benchmark for this class.
So revered is Ian's name at Dundrod that, in 2009 the organisers of the Ulster GP committee bestowed the ultimate road racing honour upon him by announcing that they were re-naming the blisteringly fast Budore Corner in recognition of his racing achievements, and since then this famous section of the 7.4 miles circuit has been known as Lougher's.
The Welshman, who made Northern Ireland his home in 2001, last raced at Dundrod in 2013 where he won the Ultra-Lightweight race from Christian Elkin and Paul Jordan, and shortly afterwards he announced his retirement from 'full-time racing'.
He has however continued to compete in carefully selected races and has continued to support 'The Ulster' by bringing Team ILR to the event when possible and running riders with the calibre of Horst Saiger and of course Joey Thompson.
Thompson will be making his second appearance at Dundrod after a sensational debut last year when he romped to victory in the Dundrod 150 National race on the Thursday of UGP Bike Week, and Saturday race day saw him podium Adrian Nettleship's 125 Honda when he scored a brilliant third place in the Ultra-Lightweight race.
He then had an impressive outing in the first Supersport encounter to come from 20th on the grid and bring the Team ILR/Thompsons ZX-6 home in 12th place, and he went two places better in the second race where, but for a false neutral at Leathemstown and having to take to the grass, he could have been higher placed.
His performances that day deservedly clinched him the meeting's Best Newcomer Award, the second time in two years that Team ILR has achieved this, with Saiger claiming it in 2015.
As well as the Supertwin entry, Joey will compete in the Supersport and 250cc classes at Dundrod.
Brands Hatch hosted the latest round of the 2018 British Superbike Championship season and, as in the previous outing at Knockhill, Team ILR had Sam Laffins in action in the Hel Performance British Motostar Championship (Standard Class) with Mark Conlin again being supported by the team in the Dickies British Supersport Championship, as regular Supersport campaigner Robert Kennedy continues to recover from his Snetterton crash in June.
Hel British Motostar Championship
On the popular GP circuit, Laffins struggled in practice and qualifying with his cause not helped by a crash in the first session, and as such he started the first of the weekend's two races towards the back of the grid.
At the conclusion of the opening lap he was outside the points and with 6 of the 12 laps completed, Sam was in the thick of a three rider dice for 14th and the last championship point with a queue of riders forming behind him.
However red flags were shown on the 10th lap to bring the race to an early conclusion with Laffins finishing in 15th.
Race Two again saw Sam battling for the lower championship points and in a five rider scrap that went right to the flag, the Dromara rider eventually claimed three more championship points with a battling 13th, just 0.073s behind 12th place man Jack Hart.
Dickies British Supersport Championship
On an unfamiliar circuit, Belfast rider Conlin also found practice and qualifying tough going on Stanley Watson's Magic Bullet R6 Yamaha, and he finished the sessions at the lower end of the timings.
Saturday's Sprint race soon became a lonely affair for Mark, finishing 20th, two seconds clear of the next rider Robert Childs.
Sunday's Feature race was a similar story for Conlin, although he had to work harder to fend off the challenge of Mark Clayton and Mark Piper on his way to claiming 17th place, a repeat of his best placing in the previous round at Knockhill.
The action moves to Thruxton in two weeks time.
Team ILR owner/manager Ian Lougher:
"Brands started with a customary crash from Sam as he continues to learn his chosen sport, so it was once again a race against time for Team ILR to get the bike ready in time for Free Practice 2.
Obviously the crash knocked his confidence but as the weekend went on he bettered his times and brought his Honda home in a fine 13th position in Race 2.
Mark Conlin too hasn't seen any of the BSB tracks before so it's a case of track time and slowly improving, which he did bringing his R6 home in 17th position and knocking almost a second off his times."
"We had a bad start to the weekend with my crash in the first session but the team did brilliantly to get the bike ready for the next session.
Qualifying didn't go to plan and I ended up starting the first race well down the grid meaning I had a lot to do, I was disappointed with my first result but felt better after the second race where I felt I gave a better account of myself.
This season has been another big learning curve for me but with Ian Lougher and the team behind me I am continuing to learn and grow as a rider.
Thanks to everyone in the team, my mechanic Willie, and all my sponsors."
"Brands Hatch was a new circuit for me, but with Ian and Team ILR I picked up valuable tips not only on the circuit, but about my general riding and bike set-up.
I have really enjoyed my last two wild-card outings with the team and they can only stand me in good stead for the future.
Big thanks to Ian Lougher and Asa at Team ILR and my mechanics Grahame and Jamie for all their hard work.
Also big thanks to Stanley Watson, Gilnahirk Tyres, Kilmore Farms and all my sponsors who make this possible, and to my family and friends for their support."
Team ILR and Joey Thompson had a solid Southern 100 over the Billown Circuit in what was a return to action for the young Yorkshire
rider since the Post-TT meeting over the same course in June.
Joey opened his account at The Friendly Races with a secure second place ride on the Team ILR/Thompsons ZX-6 in the 600 class in Tuesday evening's Corlett's Trophies 600/1000cc race.
He followed this up on Wednesday evening with a fine ride in the first of the meeting's two Supertwin races. Ivan Lintin set a fast pace from the start and won by a healthy margin from James Cowton with Joey promoted to third after Adam McLean was penalised by 10 seconds for overtaking the Team ILR/Mark Coverdale S1-R Paton under yellow flags on the sixth and final lap.
Joey's evening ended in disappointment with a retirement from the Radcliffe Butchers 600 Race but he bounced back the next day with a good ride in the S & S Motors 600cc Race where he finished sixth having just been pipped for fifth by .039s by Michael Evans.
The second Supertwins race was a cracking affair with the result in doubt right up to the chequered flag.
After a race long dice, just over half a second separated eventual winner Adam McLean, second placed James Cowton with Joey in third having set a new Supertwins lap record of 104.97mph on his last lap.
Team ILR owner-manager Ian Lougher:
"Joey hadn't ridden a bike for a month and it showed in practice I think, he admitted he felt a little rusty and took a couple of sessions to get up to speed.
However when the races got underway with some excellent starts he was straight on the pace and two 3rd places on Mark Coverdale's 650 Paton plus the Supertwin lap record was no mean feat.
On his Team ILR/Thompsons ZX6 Joey had a good couple of outings but he felt the edge had gone off the engine and it lacked real pulling power, but he managed a 2nd and a 6th nonetheless.
In the last race of the meeting and the last 600 event, he was lying in a great 3rd position, but unfortunately the race was to come to a tragic end with Joey extremely lucky not to be involved in the four bike crash which claimed the life of James Cowton and left Ivan Linton critically injured.
From all at Team ILR we would like to pass on our thoughts and condolences to the families and friends of all those involved at this harrowing time."
"To reflect on the Southern 100 week, words can't describe the way things went.
We had a strong week on both bikes with a few mechanical issues which set us back, but as a team we worked really well and made things happen with 3 podiums and an outright Supertwin lap record.
None of this would happen if it wasn't for my dad John Thompson, all at Team ILR, Mark Coverdale and all my personal sponsors friends and family.
I am glad to come away in one piece and enjoyed my week's racing.
My thoughts are with all James' family and my fingers are crossed for Ivan.
Southern 100 Team Announcement
Team ILR are pleased to announce that they have been joined at the Southern 100 Road Races over the Billown circuit on the Isle of Man, by well-known female racer Maria Costello.
The first woman ever to claim a podium finish in a race around the Isle of Man TT course, Costello will pilot the second Mark Coverdale Paton alongside regular teamster Joey Thompson in the Supertwins races.
The Coverdale Patons have proven to be a potent weapon in their outings so far this season.
At the North-West 200 its sheer speed in a straight line raised more than a few eyebrows as Thompson scored two well- deserved third place podiums.
Two weeks later at the Isle of Man TT races, Joey and Team ILR owner-manager Ian Lougher registered two Top 6 finishes with fifth and sixth respectively.
Thompson then took the Paton to victory at the traditional Post-TT races over the Billown circuit when he scored a dominant win in the Radcliffe Butchers 250/650cc race.
Monday evening practice at the Southern 100 has already seen Joey on the pace in 4th, and on Tuesday evening he finished second in the 600 class of the 1000cc race.
The action continues on Wednesday and Thursday.
The Isle of Man TT has concluded for another year and Team ILR arrived on the island two weeks ago with perfect blend of youth and experience, with the young highly rated Joey Thompson again having 10 times TT winner Ian Lougher in his corner.
And it proved to be a very busy and eventful TT for both riders with Lougher entered in four races and his young protege down for three events.
Ian was again at the forefront of the challenge from the Suter company after their one year TT hiatus last year with the exciting two stroke 'Suter 500', and he renewed his links with TEAM MIRAI in the TT Zero race. Joey meanwhile was entered in the two Supersport TT's, with both riders on Patons for the Lightweight TT.
Practice week got off to a good start with Thompson lapping at over 117mph on the ZX-6 and Lougher settling in on the Suter. The remainder of the week saw Joey steadily build on every outing on the Kawasaki and Paton, with Ian using the notoriously limited practice time to mainly work on a good setting on the Suter and the conclusion of practice saw both riders reasonably happy with their week's work.
First up was the Superbike TT and it proved to be a very challenging one for Lougher who came to the start line heavily laden with flu. Ian managed the first two laps but at the first pit-stop his condition then worsened and the combination of this and a nasty 'moment' on the third lap, as well as actually being sick on the bike, convinced him to wisely call it a day.
A disappointing conclusion to the race, but a decision to retire that everyone was 100% supportive of with safety being paramount.
Monday arrived with Lougher 'slowly improving' and Thompson going to the line for the first Supersport TT. Joey started with an opening lap of 121.11mph to slot into 24th and as they stopped for their pit-stop he was up one place with a lap of 121.65mph.
Lap three saw Thompson push for a place in the Top 20 as he went on to his last circuit attempting to chase down Craig Neve.
However it was a big task, but he still finished in an excellent 21st with an impressive 122.76mph being his fastest lap.
Wednesday was a busy day for the team with three races on the cards.
After a disappointing start in which Joey (Supersport Race 2) and Ian (TT Zero) were retirements it was on to the Lightweight TT and hopes were high of a good result on the Team ILR/Mark Coverdale Patons.
The first of the four laps concluded with Lougher in ninth and Joey two places back and a lap later as they pitted both riders had improved by one place and were riding well. Thompson began to up the ante on the third lap as he slotted into 6th with Lougher just one place back but his efforts were being badly hampered by a loose visor.
The retirement of Peter Hickman on the last lap saw Joey secure in 5th, but the nail-biting attention for the team was turning to the battle between Ian and Michael Sweeney for 6th which raged throughout the last lap with Ian pulling out the stops over his favourite Mountain Section to claim the final Top 6 place.
Two great results for the riders and the team, and a particularly good day for Paton with five riders in the first six home.
And so to the Blue Riband Senior TT, a race that had now taken on extra significance for the Suter team, something that wasn't lost on Ian and he didn't disappoint.
He opened with a steady 122.88mph lap to slot into 31st position and at the first pit-stop a lap later he had moved up to 28th. With the exception of the third lap following the pit-stop, Lougher was lapping consistently in the 122's and as he pitted at the end of the fourth lap he was in 26th place and a lap later he had gained four places to move into 22nd.
Ian saved the best to last to lap at over 124mph, his own personal best two-stroke lap, and the all-time second best two-stroke lap around the Mountain Course, to finish just one place outside the Top 20.
The following day after the TT, Joey then competed in the Post TT Road Races at the Billown circuit and had a successful outing with third in the 600cc race and a win in the 250/650cc race where he soon took the lead and was never headed to secure his and Paton's first win at the circuit.
In closing the thoughts of everyone at Team ILR are with the families and friends of Dan Kneen and Adam Lyon, and our best wishes go to all the injured riders and we wish them a speedy recovery.
Team ILR owner-manager Ian Lougher:
"The TT is always very tiring and the 2018 TT was no different, especially when our young protege Joey Thompson caught the flu at the beginning of practice week then I got it just when the racing started...bad timing or what!!
So for me the first superbike race was a disaster, with no energy I just couldn't hold on and felt drained, and after 3 laps completed I retired to the pits.
Joey had a great race in the Supersport race on the Team ILR/Thompsons ZX6 Kawasaki finishing 21st, but more importantly lapping at 122.7 mph on lap four, which is a great step forward in only his second visit to the Isle of Man.
In the Lightweight race he went even better on the Mark Coverdale backed Paton machine, finishing in a brilliant 5th place and lapping at 117.5 mph.
For myself I had an interesting race on the Paton to say the least...going off the line the pit limiter stuck on which meant I lost a couple of seconds, and with Peter Hickman starting right behind me that was a real problem I didn't need.
In the pit stop we couldn't get the fuel cap back on which cost me around 10 seconds extra.
But worse was to come when my visor came loose after the pit stop which meant I had to ride the last 2 laps holding it on and squinting through the result of the massive draft coming into my eyes.
So after all this I was quite satisfied I could bring it home for a 6th place finish and help Paton get 5 of the their machines in the top 6.
For the Senior race Suter gave me a much revised machine, working on changes to the suspension and fueling, but the biggest gain was an altered riding position which helped me feel a bit more comfortable on the Manx roads.
Suter and Team ILR worked hard together for the entire fortnight so it was pleasing I could finish the race in 21st position for them.
There is massive potential in the bike still but it's not an easy ride by any means, but I do think I came up short of my planned 127 mph lap as I only managed just under 125 mph.
But anyway it was never going to be easy on a proper racing prototype fuel injected two stroke machine.
I have so much admiration for all the guys at Suter Industries, they never give up and are always trying to be different.
TEAM MIRAI Racing prepared a beautiful electric bike in a Honda Moto 3 chassis for me to race, it handled great and I really enjoyed riding it, it was quite light and small, but on its second practice lap it almost caught fire at Quarry Bends, so was damaged quite badly, but luckily the rival Nottingham University's team came to our rescue and lent us some batteries, but sadly I lost power in the race and retired at Lambfell.
So that's it for this year, our thoughts go out to the families of lost and injured riders who we'll never forget.
Thank you to all the marshal's and officials who gave up their time to make it all happen."
"The TT was great, we again had a lack of track time which put us on the back foot but I am learning fast and got some great lap times, especially on the Team ILR/Thompsons ZX6 Kawasaki.
I was pleased with fifth on the Team ILR/Mark Coverdale Paton in the Lightweight TT and to have 5 Patons in the Top 6 was brilliant.
I loved every second of it and can't thank all the team, my dad and sponsors enough.
My thoughts are with the families of the riders who lost their lives and my best wishes go to those who were injured."
He may have been a newcomer at last year's North-West 200, but this year Team ILR's Joey Thompson was a newcomer to the podium as he claimed third place in both Supertwin races on the immaculate Team ILR/Mark Coverdale Paton. The Paton has generated enormous interest since it was announced that Thompson would be riding it in 2018, and after the North-West 200 that interest has trebled.
Tuesday practice was spent getting accustomed to the bike and trying a few settings with Joey still managing to post the fourth quickest time. The speed of the Paton was obvious with Joey particularly quick in the first two speed sectors through the very fast sections to Ballysally Roundabout and the Metropole, he was also joint quickest through the speed trap on the high speed run to University.
Thompson again finished 4th in Thursday's second qualifying session, but at over seven seconds quicker it was clear everything was falling nicely into place. Again he posted the joint fastest speed through the speed trap and he was fastest through the second sector to Metropole Corner.
A delay to racing during the Thursday evening programme meant that it was after 8pm and a lot cooler when the Supertwins took to the track with a group of six riders including Joey going clear.
Using the speed of the Paton to good effect, Thompson soon opened up a sizeable gap and at one point it looked as though he had made a break for it, but it wasn't to be and the chasing pack of Jeremy McWilliams, Martin Jessopp, James Cowton and Adam McLean were on his tail at the Juniper Chicane and across the start-finish line.
Thompson led going on to the last lap but at the exit of the Mill Road roundabout he was down to third. However, by University he was back in front but the Yeovil man took the lead at Ballysally Roundabout only for Joey to fight back and doggedly fend off the slipstream challenge of Jessopp into Mather's Chicane.
As they exited the Metropole, Jessopp re-took the lead and held on along the coast road for the win.
His cause was helped behind as Joey took to the grass at the Juniper chicane and almost scuppered his entire efforts, thankfully he recovered and held on for a superb third.
Saturday's second race again saw Joey take the race to his more established and experienced rivals.
Stung by comments querying the legality and cost of his Paton S1R, about which the team were compelled to release a statement to put the record straight, Thompson was determined to prove a point.
The four lap race developed into a battle between Thompson, James Cowton and Jeremy McWilliams, with fancied runners Adam McLean and Martin Jessopp retiring. At the end of the second lap it looked as though Joey had lost out as he dropped back by almost two seconds, but using the speed of the Paton he was on the tails of McWilliams and Cowton at University. Joey and the team had done their homework and this enabled him to learn from the first race on Thursday evening.
At the Juniper Chicane on Lap 3 Joey went in a bit quick and again lost time, but as in the previous lap he was soon with the leaders and swept past them into University and was executing his race plan to perfection.
It was now or never for Thompson as he held the lead through Ballysally Roundabout and this time superbly made it stick through the crucial Metropole and Black Hill sections.
He pulled away on the coast road and it looked as though he had done enough for his first North-West 200 win, but Joey again made a small error at Juniper and lost the drive and Cowton saw his chance and went through on the inside as Joey went over the kerb again losing momentum allowing McWilliams through, and they crossed the line in that order.
The fact Joey was disappointed with third in what is only his second North-West 200, is an indication of his talent and how far he has come in such a short space of time with Ian Lougher and the team in his corner.
Amidst all the excitement of his exploits in the Supertwin class, Joey also registered two solid 11th place finishes in both Supersport races, results that were equally impressive in their own right.
16th overall in qualifying he rode strongly to work his way up to 12th on the third lap of Thursday evening's first encounter and settle in behind Dan Kneen and Sam West.
Joey maintained his position to the flag, but a 10 second penalty imposed on West for a straight ride through at Mill Road Roundabout meant that Joey was promoted one place in the final result.
Saturday's race saw Joey with Ian Hutchinson in the early stages before moving clear of his fellow Yorkshireman on the third lap to finish in a trouble free 11th, two excellent results for the 20 year old who has a bright future on the North Coast and much further afield.
The focus now for the team is the Isle of Man TT races where Joey will again campaign the Paton and Kawasaki, and he will be joined by Ian Lougher who will spearhead the Suter challenge on the exciting MMX 500 V4 2-stroke.
Team ILR owner-manager Ian Lougher:
"After we moved on from the North-West 200 paddock on Saturday night, and heading down to Belfast for the boat to the Isle of Man TT races, I was filled with a sense of relief that it was all over.
There's a number of reasons for this but the biggest one this time was the fact that I felt I almost had to apologise for our young rider Joey Thompson for going to a lot of trouble to giving him a quick Supertwins motorcycle...something that we all strive for at such a fast track.
The number of snide comments and criticism we got were very disappointing after Thursday's races where Joey finished 3rd in the twins race on his Mark Coverdale entered Paton twin, brought on by a few misinformed 'experts' and 'jealous' so called professional "RIDERS" who will remain unnamed.
But thankfully 99% of the comments we got through social media and the public were extremely positive and a massive boost for Joey, so thank you everyone who supported him in this.
Most people could see the promise the 20 yr old shows in only his second visit to the North West backed up by two excellent 11th place finishes in the fearlessly contested Supersport 600 races.
In Race 2 of the twins on Saturday afternoon whilst leading with only 2 corners to go the young Yorkshire man got shunted wide at the final chicane resulting in him finishing 3rd and having to go wide and over the kerbs with his bike getting two buckled wheels in the process, but he still took defeat in his stride and delivered a very professional speech to the TV and press that would put most of the professional "RIDERS" in the paddock to shame.
After the race of course we were asked to strip the engine of the Paton by the scrutineers to see if there were any discrepancies with the legality of the machine, which we did, and of course it was totally legal.
So I hope people can get behind this lad Joey Thompson as he is a refreshing prospect for the future, and I am glad to be associated with him in his quest for top honours."
"The NW200 was a very productive but also difficult weekend for me and the team.
Still learning the circuit and the Paton we were always playing catch up to the guys with more experience and bike time.
Working hard all week we managed to get a good and comfortable setting with both the 600 and twin, on which we had a string of results in both classes.
It's a shame I couldn't win on Saturday but at least I'm in one piece and now ready for the TT.
Once again thanks to all my sponsors for the support.
A massive thanks to Team ILR, Mark Coverdale and Thompson's.
Team ILR Statement: North-West 200 Supertwin race.
Rumour: A currently circulating story or report of uncertain or doubtful truth.
Team ILR and Ian Lougher wish to dispel the comments made, and clarify a few points, in relation to the legality and cost of the Paton S1R twin machine following Joey Thompson's brilliant and stunning ride in Thursday evening's North-West 200 Supertwin race.
The comments surrounding the bike are not only an attack on the team, Joey Thompson and our valued sponsors, but also on the historical and distinguished Paton name itself.
Team ILR is one of the most respected race teams in the paddock, whether it be at British Superbikes, a road race, or any event for that matter.
The team has always acted with professionalism and integrity and would never, and have never, sought to gain an unfair advantage in any race they have come to the startline for.
It's a team ethos we are very proud of and one that our team owner-manager Ian Lougher has carried into the team from his own distinguished racing career.
"Joey rode a great race at such a young age in only his second visit to the North West, dicing with much more experienced riders and leading for much of the time.
But as always when a young and new face arrives amongst the old guard there is always a little resentment.
There were some comments made by one of the other riders on the rostrum that the Paton "wasn't a proper twin machine". Also there were comments made that "the machine costs 75,000 pounds and if any one of the other riders were on this bike then they would have cleared off."
Firstly the S1R is a fully homologated machine and produced in Italy by the long established and well respected Paton company.
To be homologated they have had to produce a certain amount of bikes as a road machine, they achieved this in 2014, once they did this they produced a tuned engined version of the bike and raced it at the Isle of Man several times before finally winning the TT race with Michael Rutter in 2017.
As far as the cost of the bike is concerned, anyone can order and buy one for 35,000 pounds.
This sounds a lot of money, but bearing in mind that most of the top bikes in this class are already costing this sort of money and some of them have cost more. We hope this clears up these matters, and wish Joey and everyone racing at the NW200 a safe and enjoyable days racing on Saturday."
Moto Paton SC-Project:
"Our bike, tuned for racing, is on sale at 35.000GBP, as everybody can see on Paton Official Website.
Should the organiser ask for technical inspection, Moto Paton/SC-Project company will be very happy to be given the chance to show everybody that our bike performance superiority is the result of our technicians skill and the excellent job made at Moto Paton through the year."
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 Lougher competing 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."
The second round of the British Superbike Championship season at Brands Hatch saw Team ILR field three riders, with Sam Laffins getting his season with the team underway in the first round of the British Motostar Championship.
British Supersport Championship.
In the Supersport class, Robert Kennedy had a particularly positive start to the weekend.
In Free Practice 1, he finished an excellent second quickest and third fastest through two of the three sectors and also two of the three speed traps in the wet conditions, with Joey Thompson 20th and trying to find a good set-up.
Drier conditions gave the riders a chance for some proper track time and qualifying saw Kennedy and Thompson post their fastest times of the weekend on their way to finishing 9th and 24th respectively.
The first of the weekend's two races, Saturday's Sprint Race over 16 laps, was also held in dry conditions and Robert spent most of the race involved in an exciting four rider dice for 11th place, with the Dundrod rider eventually finishing a strong 13th, but more was to come in the second encounter.
Joey meanwhile was involved in a similar scrap as he and four riders including GP2 rider Mike Brouwers battled for lower placings.
Race 2 on Sunday was held in tricky conditions with rain falling on the Kent circuit.
Unfazed, Kennedy quickly settled in from the fifth row of the grid and he went across the finish line at the end of the opening lap in 8th with his team-mate Thompson also riding well and making progress in 18th.
With a quarter of the 12 lap race run, Robert was still in the top six and, as in the previous day's race, he again found himself in the midst of a group of riders.
Robert kept things tidy in the tricky conditions as he moved between fifth and sixth place, however on the last lap he made his move and clinched fifth to move him into the Top 10 in the Championship and bring his weekend to a very satisfactory conclusion.
Thompson also had his hands full as he also once again battled throughout with a group of riders.
He gained three places on the tenth lap and despite dropping a place on the penultimate lap, he climbed two places on the last circuit to finish in a battling 14th for two championship points.
British Motostar Championship.
Sam Laffins had an unfortunate start to his 2018 Moto 3 campaign when he crashed without injury at Graham Hill Bend during FP1.
The team got Sam out for the second session where he finished 10th quickest and although he improved his time in qualifying, he finished one further place down the order in 11th for Race 1.
Sam quickly settled into the race but in the latter stages he again came to grief, this time at Clearways, and unfortunately his race was run whilst lying in 8th place.
The team again worked hard on the NSF 250 Honda and Sam was able to take his place on the ninth row of the grid for Sunday's Race 2, but he faced an uphill task on the short Indy circuit.
As it was, Sam brought it home in 13th place to score his first points of the season, but importantly he had gained more valuable track time on the Moto 3 bike.
The next round for Team ILR is at Oulton Park over the Bank Holiday weekend May 5-7.
Team ILR owner-manager Ian Lougher:
"Well it was nice to get some half decent weather at last at Brands Hatch for the second round of BSB.
RK rode consistently well all weekend gaining confidence in the set-up we gave him and the team's and his hard work paid off with some great results.
Hopefully with the bike set-up we have now, I'm sure Robert will have a great Oulton Park in 3 weeks time.
Joey was riding well also, and his times getting better after every lap he did, setting his best times in the last race. But to be honest I think his thoughts are already fixed on the bigger road race meetings that are coming soon, so he's just using these early meetings to get up to speed in readiness for the major internationals.
Sam has a heck of a lot of talent, but comes onto such a big stage of the BSB meetings and the British Talent Cup series with basically only one and a half years riding experience behind him, so he's having to learn so fast and try and find the limits of the Moto 3 bike in such a short space of time, which leads to mistakes and trips to the gravel trap, and this happened twice over the weekend.
But when he settles into it and works hard at it, then he'll be fast and will surprise a lot of people in the future I'm sure."
"It was a brilliant weekend for me.
Ian, William and my dad put a great bike underneath me throughout the whole weekend. It was so good to get two solid finishes with P13 in Race One, and the rain helped me in Race Two but it was so nice to finish fifth after the hard winter everyone has put in.
We have some areas we can work on with both myself and the bike and hopefully we can improve on these in the next races with more track time.
Massive thanks you to all at Team ILR all my sponsors, friends and family, and anyone who has helped me in any way."
"Brands Hatch was a very difficult round for me and the team.
We started off in wet practice which meant we lost a session for setting up the new ZX6.
We struggled a lot with gearing and set up all weekend and made a huge change every session and race we went into, which meant I was going into each race not knowing what the bike would be like.
In the feature race we finally managed to get the perfect set-up for the bike but that was just too late unfortunately as we were well down the grid.
Hopefully we can make a good round at Oulton Park and that's the circuits out the way with, and it'll be time to go Road Racing.
Thanks to all Team ILR, THOMPSONS and all my personal sponsors for making it possible."
"After getting some set-up in Free Practice 1, I went out in FP2 and got into the fifty-two's which put me in tenth. After qualifying in 11th I and dropped a place on the first lap of Race 1 but pulled back four places by lap five and was running in eighth place when I lost the front.
Race 2 didn't go too well as the front brake wasn't releasing properly which meant the brake was holding a bit, but I managed 13th.
So not a bad start to the season and roll on Oulton Park.
I would like to thank Team ILR for doing a great job, and I would like to thank all my sponsors and supporters.
It wouldn't be possible without you."
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!!"
"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."
"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."
Team ILR can announce that team owner-manager Ian Lougher will compete at the 2018 Isle of Man TT races.
The 10-times TT winner will renew links with TEAM MIRAI when he spearheads their entry in the SES TT Zero race on Wednesday, June 6th.
Lougher last rode for the Japanese outfit in 2013.
In extremely difficult circumstances, he took over the reigns of the Komatti-Mirai bike from his good friend Yoshinari Matsushita who tragically lost his life in a practice crash at Ballacrye.
The vastly experienced Welshman brought the bike home for a top six finish, in what was an emotionally charged, professional performance,
TEAM MIRAI is an ambitious, friendly, private business that has a mission to 'contribute to society by developing vehicles that do not emit the next generation of carbon dioxide.'
The company C/O Mr. Yoshihiro Kishimoto decided to try the TT again in 2018 with his new EV bike which brings to the table a very small machine, but with aggressive power using a NSF250 chassis.
Mr. Kishimoto himself competed in Pikes Peak in the USA, and he also competed at the Cemetery circuit in New Zealand among engine machines in 2017 finishing with two very respectable 5th and 6th places.
It will again be a busy fortnight for Lougher as he will oversee the challenge of the team's young gun Joey Thompson who will be competing in his second TT races.
Team ILR owner-manager Ian Lougher:
"I'm quite intrigued and looking forward to riding Kishimoto san's electric bike at the TT again, although this bike is a totally new machine from 2013.
I was lucky to be able to test the machine while I was in Japan recently, it was not an ideal test as it was only one degree above freezing but it was still good to get a general feel of it.
It's very small as it's based around a Moto 3 Honda chassis, which is great for me as I have plenty of experience riding one of those, so I'll get tucked in and see how we get on."
TEAM MIRAI owner-manager Mr. Yoshihiro Kishimoto:
"I am extremely pleased that my team is planning to come back to TT Zero for the first time in five years.
At our last participation in TT Zero in 2013 during our final preparation for the machine "TT Zero 13", we heard the news of Yoshinari Matsushita's accident while we were in London.
Our team had to face the heaviest difficult decision after our rider died during practice for the Isle of Man TT.
But Ian Lougher who was a close friend of Yoshinari decided to ride for him and he finished the race well.
This year, I am very proud that Ian and our team can come together again for the TT Zero race.
Of course, Yoshinari will also participate together in our minds.
We are just a small independent team from Japan, please support us and our rider Ian Lougher.
Joey Thompson will have a factory S1-R Paton at his disposal at the Isle of Man TT, as well as the big international meetings at Scarborough, the North-West 200, Southern 100 and the Ulster Grand Prix in 2018.
The young rising star will ride the Supertwin machine in the Lightweight TT and he will add his name to a list containing names such as Mike Hailwood, Roberto Gallina and Virginio Ferrari who have ridden the iconic Paton in the past.
Joey had a very impressive pure roads debut in 2017 and he will arrive next year with more experience and circuit know-how, and the rider from Yorkshire is fully aware of what it takes to become a serious roads campaigner thanks to having Team ILR owner-manager Ian Lougher, himself no stranger to the Paton name, in his corner.
Paton returned to the TT in an official capacity in 2014 to challenge the dominance of the ER-6 Kawasaki, with Olie Linsdell finishing an excellent sixth in the Lightweight TT.
The following year, Paton Motorcycles turned to Lougher to oversee their Lightweight effort in the hands of Michael Rutter, under the banner Paton/Team ILR.
Rutter and the team produced a superb display to put Paton on the podium in third, a result that absolutely delighted the Italian manufacturer, and who's to say that Joey Thompson won't grace the podium next June.
Team ILR owner-manager Ian Lougher:
"I am so pleased that we are in a position to offer Joey a potential race winning package for the Lightweight TT class, thanks must go out to the people who have made this possible for us, Mark Coverdale and Solway Slate and Tile.
The Paton name is an iconic name in motorcycle racing, and Team ILR look forward to renewing our ties with the Paton factory.
Joey is certainly not under any pressure from anybody to perform, as our ethos from a team perspective is 'a happy rider is a fast rider', so roll on 2018.
Merry Xmas and a Happy New Year to everybody from Team ILR."
''Well what can I say, I am on a proven winning bike with a winning mentor... no excuses now!
Seriously though I am so happy to be riding the Paton at Team ILR next season, as seeing the bike perform at the TT this year it was outstanding and to be given the opportunity to race the bike at all the international road races it gives me the opportunity to prove myself.
It won't be easy though, it's a completely new bike for me as it will be completely different to the Trickbits Racing Suzuki twin I have previously rode and won on.
So to be honest I have a lot of confidence on a super twin machine so let's get 2018 underway and see what me and the team can do.
Once again thanks to everyone for this opportunity as without all the support from Thompson's, Team ILR and all my personal and team sponsors this wouldn't be possible.''