Tommy Bridewell went into Oulton Park with the goal of winning all three British Superbike races and whilst he didn’t quite achieve that, he came mightily close as he outscored championship leader Bradley Ray, 65 points to 52.
The Oxford Products Ducati rider had the most ground to make up to Ray coming into the Showdown and with a win and two seconds at the weekend, he shot up the leaderboard from eighth overall to second.
“I’m definitely happy, 100 per cent, and we had a good, strong weekend,” Bridewell told bikesportnews.com. “We set out our goals before the weekend and we clawed back a decent amount of points to Brad whilst moving up to second in the championship was an added bonus. It’s what we needed and a good step in the right direction.”
The weekend obviously wasn’t without its fair share of drama with at least two of the Showdown contenders ruled out of the next round, Tarran Mackenzie missing the rest of the season altogether. And Bridewell himself was caught up in some controversy when he made contact with Jason O’Halloran in Sunday’s first race, the McAMS Yamaha rider crashing out.
“I genuinely felt bad for Jason and am genuinely sorry for those guys with how their weekend went. No rider goes racing to cause another to crash. Jason was quite slow up and over Clay Hill and I felt the move was on so took the opportunity. But the overall weekend, for a lot of riders, was quite messy.”
“Every rider starts the year with massive respect for every other rider on the grid as we all know the risks.
“What struck me at Oulton was that some riders are riding for their job and desperate to put on a show to secure a ride, some are trying to secure the Championship and some are in between so it’s quite a mix.”
“It was difficult to understand how people were approaching the races as you had the Showdown contenders, the non-Showdown contenders and everyone else. Some were happy to sit in the pack and let the race come to them whilst another 20 riders wanted to rip your head off. They weren’t the greatest of races as a lot of moves were being put in, some which were maybe a bit unnecessary.
“In truth, I’m guilty of that but you have to fight with fire and I had no option to ride other than in the way I did at the weekend. If I hadn’t, I’d have ended up being another victim and the races proved that you can’t give anything away to the other riders.”
Bridewell is now looking forward to Donington, another circuit where he’s been strong in the past and is well aware that anything can still happen. Whilst recognising the strength of Ray, he also feels him and the team are moving forward all the time.
“Brad’s one lap pace is phenomenal and there was no way I was going to match his time and find 0.8s in qualifying at Oulton. But I always know that I can match, or better, the time I do in qualifying in the race and that’s what happened and the races, two of them anyway, highlighted their weakness and showed there’s potentially, a chink in their armour.”
“We made some good in-roads with the bike at Oulton and I’m hoping we have enough data to analyse both the positives and negatives so we can improve on the areas I’m still complaining about. I’m going to go to Donington and keep doing what I’m doing, focusing on the race wins and focusing on Brad as he’s still in the driving seat.”