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." 

Joey Thompson

"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."


          June 2018