Before this year's International North-West 200 the name Joey Thompson may not have been on everyone's lips, but at the conclusion of this year's meeting the 18 year old Team ILR teamster had won himself an army of admirers. 

Joey arrived at the North West having never raced there before, but he had an ace card to play in the form of Team ILR owner/manager Ian Lougher, an eight times North-West 200 winner and the only man to win five consecutive 125cc races at the event. 
One of the first items on the agenda for Joey was a car trip around the famous triangle circuit with the vastly experienced Lougher passing on valuable tips to his young rider. 

Joey approached Supersport practice both with the eagerness of his young years and the maturity of an older rider. In first qualifying he circulated at a very steady 106.93mph, going through the speed trap at 164.6mph, and declaring himself very happy with his day's work and already looking forward to the second session where he knocked a full 7.5 seconds off his previous best lap time and also showing that he was getting accustomed to the high speed nature of the circuit by upping his speed trap time to 169.6mph. 
His efforts meant that he started the first race heading the second row of Group B. 

At the end of the opening lap of Thursday evening's 6 lap race only Guy Martin from the second wave of riders was in front of Joey, and on the next lap Joey got ahead to lead Group B and hold 20th overall. The next few laps saw Thompson lose a place but he rode sensibly to come home in 21st place and claim the second wave honours and the fastest lap by a newcomer, a very commendable performance. 

Overnight rain on Friday night left the North-West circuit wet on Saturday morning but as the riders went out on their sighting lap for the second Supersport race, a combination of a drying wind and heavy road traffic had dried approx 80% of the course. 

However at the chicanes and on sections of the coast road, particularly at Juniper Hill, there were still large damp patches. 
Following a short delay the race eventually got underway and Joey immediately took the initiative from the second group and led the charge into the right hander towards Primrose and down to York Corner. 
From there he progressed to 17th place and was again the fastest newcomer on the circuit when a mechanical problem on the penultimate lap brought his race to a disappointing end. 
Nevertheless Joey had shown that he is going to be a future star on the North Coast. 

It's the Isle of Man TT next for Team ILR, where Joey Thompson makes his debut at the event and will be the youngest rider ever to line-up on the Glencrutchery Road. Also at the end of the month Robert Kennedy and Ozzy Madey will be in action in the next round of the Pirelli National Superstock 600 Championship, where it is one of the support races in the Donington Park World Superbikes Round. 

Team ILR owner/manager Ian Lougher
"It's fair to say I'm very proud of Joey, he took his first visit to one of the fastest road race circuits in the world in his stride, in damp and challenging conditions that even a more experienced rider would have found extremely daunting. 
He showed total composure and wasn't fazed at all about the task in front of him. 
It was such a shame he couldn't finish his Saturday race as he had 17th in the bag. 
At Team ILR we all look forward now to our visit to the Isle of Man in a couple of weeks time with Joey, and to carry on giving him as much guidance and help as we possibly can and make his first TT visit a successful one." 

Joey Thompson
"I had an awesome time at the North-West 200, the most fun I've ever had on a motorbike. 
I was absolutely gutted that we had to retire from the main race on Saturday with a mechanical issue, as we were on for what would have been a very strong debut result. 
The whole week went to plan and we chipped away each time. 
Thanks to all the team, sponsors, and for all your support. 
This is only the beginning!!"