If you’d have told Tommy Bridewell before Donington Park that he’d only have one finish of ninth but that would be enough to take the lead in the British Superbike Championship ahead of the final round, it’s a safe bet that he wouldn’t have believed you.
But that’s exactly what happened to the BeerMonster Ducati rider, turning a half point deficit to team-mate Glenn Irwin into a 7.5pt advantage after another dramatic weekend in the title race.
Everything was going to plan in the dry when he took second in qualifying but, like Irwin and others, his decision to run with intermediate tyres for the first race, instead of full wets, backfired and he finished last although he, perhaps surprisingly, wasn’t too disheartened.
“As strange as it seems, there was nothing to be disappointed after the first race. They’re the kind of days that you can’t win the championship, but you can certainly lose it especially if you were to fall off and get injured.”
“After the sighting lap I felt sure the intermediates were the right tyre choice, but conditions were getting worse and by then it was too late to change. The rain caught us out but whilst I knew we weren’t going to score any points, I also knew lots of other riders would be in the same position and so it proved.”
Such was his pace, or lack of it, though his fastest lap was the slowest of the field and meant he had to start Sunday’s first race from the back of the grid. Amazingly (or perhaps not), he was leading the race at half race distance but spots of rain then began to fall and two laps later, and as the leading group bunched up, he crashed out taking Irwin with him in the process.
Once again, emotions were running high in the PBM garage and more drama followed in the final race when Bridewell could only manage ninth in the wet conditions. But with Irwin and Leon Haslam retiring and second race winner Kyle Ryde down in 12th, the results put Bridewell back in the driving seat in the points standings.
“I’m sore after today’s crash and worn out emotionally after the weekend! Without doubt it’s been a tough day and a rollercoaster of a meeting and whilst the incident in the first race was bad for all of us, it was 100% a racing incident but I apologised to Glenn and his team as it was obviously disappointing for both of us.”
“I felt so strong on the bike and to come from last on the grid to lead after 8-9 laps is almost unheard of in BSB so it’s a real shame it happened. In the final race, I had a few visibility issues, but I came here half a point behind in the championship standings and I’m leaving 7.5pts in the lead so I’m feeling positive going into the final round at Brands. I love the place. It’s my favourite circuit and the two wins I took there in July should stand me in good stead.”