Tommy Bridewell claimed his first win of the 2021 Bennetts British Superbike Championship at Donington Park on Sunday with the Oxford Products Ducati rider coming home ahead of Glenn Irwin (Honda Racing) and Andrew Irwin (Synetiq BMW), the race determined by tyre choice with those on intermediates faring best.
Cut from 26 laps to 20 due to a rain shower, it was Ryan Vickers (RAF regular & Reserve Kawasaki) who grabbed the holeshot into Redgate but he only got as far as Coppice before crashing out and it was Tarran Mackenzie (McAMS Yamaha) who led at the end of the opening lap from Peter Hickman (FHO Racing BMW), Glenn Irwin – riding despite dislocating his shoulder in the earlier race – Bridewell, Jason O’Halloran (McAMS Yamaha) and Andrew Irwin.
Mackenzie, with a wet front and intermediate rear, had a 0.8s lead at the end of lap two but Glenn Irwin cut that to just 0.034s next time around as both Bridewell and Andrew Irwin overhauled Hickman, the latter having opted for full wets.
Both Glenn Irwin and Bridewell had gone for intermediates all round and they pushed Mackenzie back to third on lap four with the duo immediately opening up a 1.5s gap over the pursuing pack which was now headed by Andrew Irwin. Christian Iddon (VisionTrack Ducati), with a slick rear, was up to fifth ahead of Skinner with Hickman dropping back to seventh.
Lap six and it was Bridewell’s turn to take over in the lead, the Wiltshire man immediately opening up a half second lead over Irwin with brother Andrew maintaining his third place and comfortably clear of Mackenzie, Iddon and new sixth placed man Dan Linfoot (TAG Racing Honda).
The top three had a healthy gap over the rest of the field but lap times were varying dependent on tyre choice and on lap eight, Iddon had moved into fourth from Mackenzie and Josh Brookes who was faring a lot better in the mixed conditions on his Ducati
However, next time around Iddon was down at Craner Curves and that promoted team-mate Brookes up to fifth and a flying Storm Stacey (LKQ Euro Parts Kawasaki), with intermediates front and rear and clearly the best option, to sixth.
Back at the head of the field and half race distance saw Glenn Irwin cut Bridewell’s lead to three quarters of a second, the same lap seeing Brookes relegate Mackenzie to fifth. A lap later and Joe Francis (iForce Lloyd & Jones BMW) moved into sixth at the expense of Stacey.
Bridewell responded to the pressure being applied by Glenn Irwin and by lap 13, he’d doubled his advantage to 1.6s with Andrew Irwin two seconds further back in third. He, in turn, was some 17s clear of new fifth placed rider Francis with Mackenzie gamely hanging on in sixth. Team-mate O’Halloran wasn’t faring as well though and he’d slipped back to 12th with five laps to go.
The Ducati of Bridewell continued to surge clear and, just as he’d done 12 months ago, he took a win on the Donington National circuit, his eventual winning margin over Glenn Irwin a comfortable 3.4s.
Andrew Irwin finished in a good third with Brookes taking a season’s best in fourth and Francis and Stacey taking career best finishes of fifth and sixth respectively.
Mackenzie, Dean Harrison – another to claim a career best finish – Linfoot and Gino Rea completed the top ten. O’Halloran held on for 12th with his commanding series lead untroubled.
Danny Buchan (Synetiq BMW) and Danny Kent (Buildbase Suzuki) were ruled out of the race after suffering concussion and a dislocated hip respectively in the opening race of the day. Buchan, fourth place overall in the standings, will also miss the three races at Cadwell Park next weekend.