Tommy Bridewell says it will take time for his maiden British Superbike Championship [BSB] title to sink in after resisting team-mate Glenn Irwin by the smallest of margins at the end of a twisting and turning 2023 season.
One of BSB’s longest-serving riders with a debut in the series that stretches right back to 2007, though Bridewell has established himself among the BSB elite since then, he arrived at the Brands Hatch finale with a direct shot at clinching the title for the first time.
With the ‘fierce’ rivalry between himself and BeerMonster Ducati team-mate Glenn Irwin having reached boiling point in recent rounds after clashes and comments in the media, Bridewell successfully navigated a tense final event to repel the impact of Irwin’s two victories from the three races.
Landing a crucial overtake on Kyle Ryde to rise from third to second on the final lap of race three, it would see Bridewell end the year on top by the smallest possible winning margin of half-a-point.
Reflecting on what has been a career-making season, his first with the Paul Bird Motorsport team, Bridewell paid tribute to Irwin, insisting the challenge from within his own pit box inspired him to the next level in response.
“To be able to stand here and say I have won the British Superbike Championship is unbelievable,” he told BSB directly after the race..
“I think myself and Glenn are such fierce rivals. We have received so much social media abuse because it is easy for people to do that, Glenn said stuff he shouldn’t have, I said stuff I shouldn’t have, but we hand on our heart know the respect we have for each other is unbelievable.
“The rivalry we both had this year made us both riders that we probably never dreamed of being. I know that he is going to come back next year more determined and motivated than ever, and I am going to come back to try and retain my title.
“It is an honour to say I am going to come back and try to retain my title, it hasn’t sunk in and it probably won’t for a while. I’m lost for words, what a year it has been - hopefully the first of many to come.”
Bridewell’s title win comes in his 16th season of BSB competition, during which he has finished inside the top three overall on four occasions without lifting the championship crown.
One of BSB’s most steadfastly consistent contenders, Bridewell stepped up in 2023 to add nine victories - including a tremendous triple at Snetterton - to a career tally that had totalled just seven in previous seasons combined.
Moreover, his title glory gains poignancy following the untimely death of team founder Paul Bird in September, and the memory of his brother Ollie Bridewell, who was killed in an accident while racing in BSB at Mallory Park in 2007.