After more than a decade of contesting the British Superbike Championship, a period that has seen him contest almost 400 races, Tommy Bridewell finally got his hands on the title at Brands Hatch at the weekend in the most dramatic finale ever.
The BeerMonster Ducati rider got the verdict over team-mate Glenn Irwin by just half a point with the final race of the season seeing the destination of the title change no less than eight times. With two seconds and a third across the weekend, it was ultimately Bridewell who got the job done.
“Everything in my life has been built towards this and I’ve dedicated every day to my late brother Ollie and to become BSB Champion, so for it to finally happen has made my life complete,” an emotional Bridewell said.
Third place on Saturday, ahead of Irwin, meant that two seconds on Sunday, assuming Irwin won both races, would see him crowned champion and that’s exactly as it panned out. Nerves were evident throughout, especially in Saturday’s wet race which Irwin later said was pivotal.
“Saturday was tough and although I felt good to begin with and made a clean, aggressive start, I tightened up a bit mid-race,” explained the newly-crowned champion. “I felt better when I was relaxed but when I tightened up, I couldn’t flow through the damp patches, maybe because I was so aware that one error would have bitten me hard.”
“I knew where I was weaker than Glenn and knew that was where he’d pass but to do so, he’d have to onto the damp stuff so when he ran wide, I felt sure he’d run wide so nipped back through and brought it home for third and a good podium.”
Sunday saw fortunes ebb and flow with the title changing hands frequently but having done the double at the Kent venue back in July, Bridewell’s pace was never in doubt.
Irwin did all he could, but Bridewell sealed the second position he needed at Druids on the final lap and after all the drama of recent rounds, both riders were quick to pay respect to each other.
“It’s difficult to sum up the last race but Kyle set a phenomenal pace although I knew I wasn’t going to make the race messy or slow it down as that would only bring others in to play.
Initially, I was in P3 and Glenn in P6, which was ideal, but he came through and then lunged at me, which put me a bit wide but no complaints, it was a fair move.”
“Behind Glenn put me under a bit more pressure and Kyle was key to the outcome of the title, but Glenn probably went a lap too early as it gave me a lap and half to get back ahead of Kyle. Glenn was attacking to win the race and full credit to him, not just today but all season.
"He’s brought both the best and worst out of me and he’s pushed me like no team-mate has ever done before – he’s an unbelievable rider and certainly knows how to ride a bike,” said Bridewell.
“When Paul (Bird) took me on, I told him I’d give everything, so the title is dedicated to both him and Ollie and I just want to say a massive thank you to everyone involved in the team for the opportunity. Today was tough, and tense, but we got it done.”