BeerMonster Ducati’s Tommy Bridewell would have expected more than one podium from the three British Superbike Championship races at Oulton Park at the weekend but after two tumultuous races, he finally delivered a much anticipated, and needed, victory in the final encounter at the Cheshire venue.
The undulating circuit has been the happiest of hunting grounds for the Wiltshire rider and after taking pole position, it looked like the weekend would follow the form book. However, an error in Saturday’s Sprint race and then a penalty for unsafe conduct upon the Safety Car restart in Sunday’s opener resulted in just a fourth and sixth place finish respectively.
That saw him lose his championship lead but the fired up Bridewell, who made his feelings about the penalty clear as he returned to pitlane, took the final race victory to leave his deficit to team-mate Glenn Irwin standing at just half a point.
“I didn’t make the best of starts from pole in the Sprint race, so rode a patient first lap but, unfortunately, I’ve been struggling to stop the bike for a couple of rounds now and the same problem occurred,” he explained, the issue causing him to overshoot Hizzy’s chicane on the final lap and drop from a close second to fourth.
“The bike’s not giving the support I need under braking and that, in turn, is reducing stability and causing the rear wheel to lift off the ground. I’m ok when riding on my own as I can roll into the corner but in a group it’s difficult and if I hadn’t picked the bike up, I’d have taken both Glenn and myself out. It was a disappointing start to the weekend.”
Things then went from bad to worse in Sunday’s opening race when he looked on course to take the win and turn the tables on Irwin. However, the deployment of the safety car saw his lead wiped out and he then appeared to brake suddenly on the approach to Lodge as he prepared for the restart.
That caused a concertina effect with many of the riders behind nearly running into the back of each other, the most dramatic of which was eighth-placed Ryan Vickers locking the rear wheel and slamming the bike sideways as he only just avoided Christian Iddon which led to him flying up the inside of everyone.
Bridewell was given a long lap penalty but with no time to take it had three seconds added to his race time instead. Although he crossed the line first, the penalty dropped him back to fourth and with Irwin winning again, it was the worst possible outcome.
Clearly annoyed, the war of words begun with Bridewell later saying there was now a divide in what had been, up until now, a harmonious BeerMonster Ducati garage. But he regrouped to put together the perfect ride in the final race and ensure the team won all three races in their first meeting since the loss of team owner Paul Bird.
“It’s been a tough weekend, not just for me but for the whole team and everyone involved, and it’s been lovely to see the deserved tributes from the BSB paddock to Paul,” he said.
“I felt like I deserved two wins today and didn’t think I’d done anything to deserve a penalty but although I lost some points to Glenn I’m not overly concerned as I know how strong we’ll be at Donington and Brands.”
“Having said that, it was nice to respond with the victory in the final race and whenever I wanted to, I could drop into the low 34’s and when I did, my lead increased. Glenn was riding well all weekend and it’s very much ‘game on’ in the championship now and that win is dedicated to Paul.”