Team ILR's Joey Thompson had his first taste of the Isle of Man TT when he became the youngest ever competitor in the history of the world famous event in 2017.
The young 19 year old rookie had a highly experienced 10 times TT winner in his corner though, in the shape of Team ILR owner/manager Ian Lougher.
Thompson approached his first TT in a professional manner with lots of preparation, hard work and good advice behind him, and it showed on his first night when he registered a 110mph lap in practice.
Practice week though was blighted by poor weather and, as was the case with many competitors, Joey was itching to get as many laps as possible in.
Towards the end of practice week he was starting to get a feel for the unique and varied characteristics of the circuit and he went round at 116.7mph on his eighth lap on Friday evening.
With racing put back until Sunday, the organisers announced that Saturday would be a practice day which gave Joey invaluable track time, with the team knowing where he could gain lots of time.
It obviously paid dividends as Thompson had his fastest lap of the week at 117.287mph to finish 41st quickest overall in the Supersport class and rewarded with being moved halfway up the starting order to 42 from an original starting number of 84.
The first lap of Monday's four lap Supersport race saw Joey set off down Bray Hill for his first ever TT race with the advice of Ian Lougher to keep it smooth and flowing very much in his mind.
He opened with a lap of 115.90mph to place himself in 33rd position, and as he pitted for fuel at the end of the next lap he was lying in 34th. The team worked efficiently to put Thompson back out quickly, and on the third lap he was still in the Top 40 and riding comfortably within himself.
The final lap saw Joey post a very respectable 118.54mph, and not even a 30 second speeding penalty for going over the 60kmh in pit lane (he was actually 0.2 of a kmh over) could deter him, as he made places up to bring the ZX-6R home for a very respectable 34th place finish and a bronze replica, which will no doubt soon be replaced by the first of many silver.
Unfortunately the Manx weather again intervened to bring a premature end to Joey's first TT adventure, with the second Supersport race being scrubbed from the schedule.
Following his TT exploits, Thompson then competed in the Post TT event over the Southern 100 course and, again with advice from Billown specialist Ian Lougher, he was the fastest newcomer and finished 8th quickest in practice for the Supersport race.
In the race itself he was 3rd going on to the last lap, but showing immense maturity he rolled off to finish 4th as he felt he was making too many mistakes as a circuit newcomer.
Equally impressive was Joey's 7th place finish in the Superbike race which brought his debut Manx adventure to a very satisfactory conclusion, and further cemented his reputation as a real star of the future.
Team ILR owner/manager Ian Lougher:
''At Team ILR we are so impressed and delighted with Joey in the way he handled his first Isle of Man TT race.
It was a difficult year for every competitor and team, with such bad weather affecting even the most experienced of riders, but Joey always remained calm, upbeat and focused, riding well within himself.
He started out in practice (not Qualifying as people keep calling it these days...the TT is about learning without any pressure for the need to qualify and this word in my opinion leads to mistakes, which are hard to undo) with a very respectable 110mph lap and upped his pace to almost a 119mph lap in the race, on his Superstock (standard engine) ZX-6R Kawasaki.
It was such a shame his second 600 race was cancelled due to lack of time, as I'm sure he would have got to a 120mph lap with no problems.
Whilst we had plenty of down time due to the bad weather, Joey expressed an interest in viewing the Southern 100 circuit (Billown), so I showed him around one of my favourite circuits.
He seemed to like it, as when the dust settled after his two races at the Radcliffe Butchers sponsored meeting, Joey had narrowly missed the rostrom in the 600cc event, finishing in 4th place, and went on to better his times by a further two seconds in the 1000cc race finishing in 7th position, with a best average speed lap of over 105mph.
Once again we were all over-awed by his maturity and endurance at such a young age, and this fun to work with young rider has a big future in Road Racing!"
"The TT was great, we had a lack of track time which put us on the back foot but we learned fast and got some great lap times.
I loved every second of it and can't thank all the team, my dad and sponsors enough, for such a great opportunity.
My thoughts are with the families of the riders who lost their lives.
Roll on the Classic TT!"