Team ILR arrived at the International North-West 200 with a three pronged attack on the Supertwin class.
Austrian Horst Saiger was joined by event newcomers Carl Phillips and James Chawke, and at their disposal were the immaculate Team ILR / Mark Coverdale S1-R Patons, a bike that set last year's Supertwin class alight.
In glorious sunshine Tuesday's first qualifying was essentially a session for newcomers James and Carl to familiarise themselves with the Paton and the circuit and unsurprisingly it was Horst who was quickest of the three with Carl next followed by James.
However in Thursday's second session it was James who improved the most, bettering his time by almost 7 seconds to move up six places and finish an impressive 8th quickest. Horst also improved his time to finish 6th fastest with Carl also going quicker and staying in 10th.
The Supertwin race was last off in Thursday's race programme, and although the warm evening sunshine had kept the track temperature up, there was also some concern with the possibility of it being in the rider's eyes, particularly at Black Hill.
As they completed the first of four laps, it was Saiger who emerged as the best placed Team ILR rider in 7th with Chawke one second back in 9th and Phillips further back in 13th.
On the second lap, race leader Jeremy McWilliams came off at Mather's Chicane leaving Paton mounted Italian Stefano Bonetti clear in the lead and a dramatic third lap saw Bonetti extend his lead as Derek McGee had a big moment coming into the start and finish area and immediately retired from the race.
While all this was going on the Team ILR riders were making great strides in the race.
James had moved ahead of Horst to slot into sixth just ahead of his team-mate, and Carl meanwhile was getting into his stride after an earlier mistake and had moved into the Top 10. Bonetti still led going into the fourth and final lap and held on for the win, but behind him Chawke was now 5th, with Saiger on his tail in 6th and Phillips 9th, and at the chequered flag James held off a determined challenge from Horst to finish a brilliant 4th on his North-West 200 debut, with fellow debutant Carl just missing out on 7th to make it three Team ILR/Mark Coverdale Patons in the Top 8.
If the weather during the week was sunny and warm, Saturday's unfortunately was anything but.
Low cloud and heavy rain descended on the North Coast from early morning, and a red flag in opening Supersport race was an indicator of how bad things were. Conditions were showing no signs of improving and with reports coming in from riders of treacherous conditions at Black Hill, the team and sponsor Mark Coverdale decided to withdraw from any further participation at the event, with the safety of the team's riders very much at the heart of that decision.
Team ILR owner-manager Ian Lougher ~
"It was a definite case of last minute dotcom for us to be ready for the North West, with the bikes being picked up in France by our great sponsor Mark Coverdale as late as 3 days before practice began.
So it was with great delight that all three bikes completed Thursday's practices and race without any faults or breakdowns, which is great testament to Paton and our team mechanics.
James had a fantastic meeting and I'm sure opened a lot of people's eyes coming home in a fantastic 4th position beating team mate Horst to the line by half a second after a great scrap on the last lap. Horst made a small mistake on the first lap but got his rhythm back quickly and was pleased with his second top ten finish of the meeting.
Carl was a first timer on the roads and had a really good debut and enjoyed it immensely, but ran wide the first lap at University so lost the tow to the others but recovered to finish in a very respectable 8th place. It was a shame we couldn't have raced on Saturday, but we had to think of the safety of all concerned."
Horst Saiger ~
"To be honest I was a bit sceptical to jump on the Paton on a course like the NW200 without any proper testing, but the small problems we had have been no drama and Ian and Jacko gave me a very well running bike for second qualifying.
I was a bit on my left foot all racing week, so my riding was not 100% how it should have been.
To end up on P5 at the first race was a very good result after a really enjoyable fight against my team mate James Chawke, his riding was much better in some corners and so he gave me a lesson even though he was a newcomer - big congrats to him.
To pull the plug on Saturdays racing was a team decision and I stand fully behind it as Black Hill was just scary and unpredictable depending on the rain.
Now I look forward to ride the Paton over the Snaefell Mountain Course.
Many thanks to Team ILR and Mark Coverdale for this fantastic opportunity!"
James Chawke ~
"Had a great debut at the North West 200 on the Team ILR/Mark Coverdale Paton 650, to finish 4th in my first ever NW200 road race was a great result and achievement.
I can't thank all the Team ILR team enough for all their help making it a fantastic meeting for me."
Carl Phillips ~
"So good to finally complete my first road race race at the North West 200, it was a dream to always compete at it.
I completed most laps on my own and was looking forward to Thursday evening's race, unfortunately a mistake by myself and running wide at University on the first lap caused me to lose too much time to the group in front.
P13 on Lap One to finish 8th in my first international road race I was pretty happy with the progress all week.
The weather wasn't on our side but I was happy with the decision by the team not to compete, I already look forward to getting back.
A massive thanks to the whole Team ILR and Mark Coverdale for the opportunity, it was first class."