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." 

Joey Thompson
"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 ILRMark Coverdale and Thompson's.


           May 2018