PAUL Robinson was one of the most popular winners at the North West 200.
The Ballymoney man achieved a lifetime ambition when he won his first ever race at the event in the 125cc section.
It was a victory tinged with delight and sadness. His dad Mervyn, a star with the Armoy Armada, died at the event 30 years ago this weekend.
Paul was in the paddock that fateful day, a young 5-year-old, with his grandmother. He vowed never to lay a wreath on his father's grave until he won a race at the North West.
Paul was quick to praise Lisburn businessman Michael Monroe for his valued support. "I would never have won without the help of Michael," said Paul. "I don't have the money to buy expensive parts and my garage team, family and friends work for nothing. Michael has been a great help especially as I had a lot of problems leading up to the race."
Michael, who owns Impact Conveyor Parts Ltd in Lissue Industrial Estate, was thrilled at PauTs great win. "I have sponsored Paul for three years and this is a wonderful and very special moment for him. I'm delighted to have helped him along the way."
PLANS for a smooth run up for the 2010 Relentless International North West 200 in association with Blackhorse may not have gone to plan for Crumlin rider Stephen Thompson, with a disastrous La Mans 24 hour race just a few weeks before his first North West 200 riding for the MSS Colchester Kawasaki.
Thompson crashed heavily at La Mans and injured his back, but after a few weeks of recuperation he was able to get back into the road racing mode and but the accident behind him with two solid performances on the Kawasaki.
It was not Thompson's first time running under the Nick Morgan MSS Colchester Kawasaki colours, having ridden for the team previously at the Macau Grand Prix, but it was the first time riding for the team at home road race and he certainly did not disgrace himself, producing two top fifteen placings in the hotly contested Superbike races.
In the opening Superbike race managed to place him in 14th place, where he maintained this position throughout the slightly shortened race. The originally scheduled five laps was cut down to four laps after a light short caused a small delay to the start of proceedings as the Race Director Mervyn Whyte waited briefly on the roads to dry out as sending the riders out on a drying track was considered too risky as the tyres would not last for more than one lap. When the chequered flag went out it was Morecambe's HM Plant's John McGuinness who took the race victory ahead of the Isle of Man's Conor Cummins with Carrickfergus rider Alistair Seeley in third. Thompson was the top of the three MSS riders who were in action, taking 14th place, whilst his team mate and newcomer to the track Gary Mason took 20th place. The third rider in the squad, Killyman's Ryan Farquhar was a non finisher due to a mechanically failure which also ruled him out of the second race later in the day. The second Superbike race, backed by Greenline was again forced into a slight delay, this time though through a non racing incident out on the track, but when racing did get under way, albeit for again a shortened race. The race was initially scheduled to run over six laps but the organising Coleraine and District Motor Club were forced to cut the distance to four laps. Thompson's start this time around was not as sharp as the opening race, slotting into 15th place on the opening lap, but it wasn't long before he moved himself up into fourteenth place again. Once again the Crumlin man was the top MSS rider finishing two places ahead of Mason who was sixteenth in the race which saw Seeley grab the victory and go down in history as the first Irish winner of the Superbike races since Phillip McCallen in 1997. Seeley claimed the win for the Relentless by TAS Suzuki team ahead of the returning Swan Honda rider, Stuart Easton with the earlier Superbike race winner McGuinness taking third place. The NW 200 is often seen as a warm up road race for the Isle of Man TT for many riders and this year this was no different for Thompson, who for the first time in his racing career will be in racing action on "the island". He will be making his TT debut in just a few weeks time.