Tommy Bridewell claimed the first pole position of the 2021 Bennetts British Superbike Championship season on Saturday afternoon after the Oxford Products Racing rider lapped the 2.69-mile Oulton Park circuit in a time of 1’34.494s.
That gave him an advantage of 0.173s over Christian Iddon (VisionTrack Ducati) with Tarran Mackenzie (McAMS Yamaha) just 0.024s further back in third to complete the front row for Saturday afternoon’s 14-lap race.
The new GP-style qualifying format saw six riders progress from the Superpicks Q1 session – Kyle Ryde, Ryan Vickers, Josh Owens, Joe Francis, Rory Skinner and Andrew Irwin – but Owens was a late faller at Cascades which meant 17 riders in total lined up for Superpicks Q2 which was only 12 minutes in duration.
The first flying lap saw Iddon initially fastest but he was overhauled firstly by Jason O’Halloran on the second McAMS Yamaha and then Bridewell with the latter lapping at 1.34m555s. Drama then followed with O’Halloran stopping with a technical problem with more than half the session remaining.
Bridewell upped his pace to 1m34.494s with Iddon and Mackenzie both overhauling the stricken O’Halloran on the timesheets with just four minutes of the session to go. Peter Hickman (FHO Racing BMW) and Ryde (Rich Energy OMG Racing BMW) were also on the pace as they moved into the top six.
As the session wore on, no-one was able to better Bridewell’s time and the Wiltshire rider duly claimed the pole position ahead of Iddon and Mackenzie with O’Halloran holding onto fourth despite only managing two laps.
Hickman, Ryde and Bradley Ray on the second OMG machine took fifth to seventh to ensure a good start to the season for BMW and the new M1000RR and although Glenn Irwin was another to experience a technical issue, he took eighth for Honda Racing.
Reigning champion Josh Brookes (VisionTrack Ducati) took ninth ahead of Gino Rea (Buildbase Suzuki) and Danny Buchan (Synetiq BMW) with the top 11 all below the 1m35s barrier and split by less than half a second.