Bridewell and Irwin salvage points at Thruxton
Despite a tough day at round seven of the Bennetts British Superbike Championship at Thruxton today, Tommy Bridewell maintained his series lead despite only managing a 14th place finish in the BikeSocial Sprint race whilst BeerMonster Ducati teammate Glenn Irwin consolidated his second position in the title race when placed ninth.
Both riders enjoyed a solid day of practice on Friday in fine conditions at the Hampshire venue and although today saw some morning showers, they’d disappeared in time for the afternoon’s eBay qualifying session. The 2.35-mile circuit was dry all the way round although it was a mixed session for the team with Glenn in eighth and Tommy in an unfamiliar 15th on the grid.
That set the tone for the remainder of the day and the 14-lap race proved to be equally challenging with neither rider able to make a significant impression although it was an extremely close race with less than ten seconds covering the first 15 riders.
With tyre wear a factor around the high-speed circuit, it was Irwin who was able to claim the best result in ninth and with Bridewell in 14th, it means the gap between the two in the championship standings came down to 29.5 points.
However, with the main rivals to Paul Bird’s two riders not scoring heavily, the pair remain in first and second positions in the title race going into tomorrow’s two races.
Tommy Bridewell: “We’re all having to run the harder SCD tyre this weekend and it’s hurting us more than we expected, certainly more than our rivals, and we’ve been unable to get any form of mechanical grip. We’ve made big changes throughout the weekend, but the feeling has remained the same, so it’s understandably been frustrating, and I didn’t think it would be this tough. That’s no excuse for a poor performance though; I should be better, I expect to be better, and I need to be better and that’s the undoubted aim for tomorrow. Track position will be key, and it will be interesting to see how things change for the whole field with six extra laps.”
Glenn Irwin: “I knew it would be tough this weekend, for a number of reasons, but whilst we have good drive, we’ve hardly any edge grip and that’s hurting us as you’re on the edge of the tyre so much here at Thruxton. The positives are that I was in a fight for sixth and I felt as strong, if not stronger, than some of the other riders around me. It’s so difficult to fight though without that edge grip but I fought hard and I’m happy enough. I wouldn’t usually be happy with a ninth, but I was close to the top six and that’s what we’ll take into tomorrow’s races where we’ll be looking to finish higher up the leaderboard in both races.”
Johnny Mowatt, Team Co-ordinator: “It wasn’t a round we were overly optimistic about and with every bike having its strengths and disadvantages, this is a circuit that highlights our weaknesses. Having said that, we hoped for more and the results are clearly not what we hoped for although we were fortunate not to lose more points to our rivals. We know we have four strong circuits coming up, but we want to improve tomorrow and get the most out of the two races that we possibly can. We know we can do more and maximising our points haul in the two races on Sunday is the clear aim.”
Damage limitation at Thruxton as Bridewell still leads
It was very much a case of damage limitation for BeerMonster Ducati riders Tommy Bridewell and Glenn Irwin who, despite a challenging weekend, maintained their first and second positions in the Bennetts British Superbike Championship following the conclusion of round seven at Thruxton today.
After yesterday’s 14-lap BikeSocial Sprint race which saw Irwin finish ninth and Bridewell 14th, any hopes of improvement in today’s two 20-lap feature races didn’t materialise as both riders struggled with similar issues which they encountered with the performance characteristics of the bike while using the specified harder compound SCD tyre.
In the opening race around the 2.35-mile circuit in Hampshire, Ulsterman Irwin started on row four with local hero Bridewell from nearby Devizes a row further back as he looked to maintain his series lead but in another hard race, Irwin crossed the line in 13th with Bridewell one place further back in 14th.
Warmer conditions ensued for the final race of the weekend and despite some major changes to Paul Bird’s factory supported BeerMonster Ducatis, whilst Irwin replicated his 13th place finish, Bridewell faded back to end up in 15th place at the chequered flag.
However, with a number of both Bridewell’s and Irwin’s main championship challengers not scoring well either, the end result is that Tommy maintains his lead with a slightly reduced margin of 26.5 points with Glenn still second but now only 24 points ahead of Thruxton treble winner, Jason O’Halloran in third.
Tommy Bridewell: “I’m slightly lost for words to be honest, and these days make the good ones even sweeter! None of us expected this and as a team we’ve struggled this weekend, but we win as a team and lose as a team, so we’ll take it on the chin and move on. If Glenn had been winning, I’d have been scratching my head, but he was only one or two places ahead of me with the other Ducati rider in the same ballpark so it’s clear the track just doesn’t suit us. I’ve lost a few points to Glenn whilst Jason has been phenomenal but the next four circuits are all good for us, so we’ll come out swinging and get back to winning ways.”
Glenn Irwin: “I’ve been working on things a lot this season and focusing on my mindset which really helps and whilst the results aren’t the best, from a championship perspective I’ve closed the gap to Tommy, and if you’d given me that at the beginning of the weekend, I’d have taken it. Hats off to Jason, he rode phenomenally well but we knew he’d be strong here as were some others. Fighting for two or three points in each race is far from ideal but the bike simply doesn’t work here. That’s just a fact and no criticism of anyone or anything so we’ll put it behind us and move on. I’ve enjoyed all the races and am content with my riding and the effort we all put in so with four strong tracks coming up, we’ll be back up front next time out.”
Johnny Mowatt, Team Co-ordinator: “It’s fair to say this weekend didn’t go to plan, far from it, and it’s hard to put into words. We had our reservations coming into the weekend given past history and the tyre we’d be using, but whilst we had optimism that the bike would work better, it didn’t pan out that way. You wouldn’t believe the number of settings that have gone into both bikes across the three days but unfortunately, they didn’t transfer into results, so it’s been a disappointing weekend given the results taken at previous rounds. At the same time, we know it’s a one-off and the next four tracks are some of our strongest, both for the riders and bike, so we’ll kick-start our title challenge next time out.”
Championship standings (after seven rounds)
1 Bridewell 263pts
2 Irwin 236.5
3 O’Halloran 212.5
4 Ryde 208
5 Haslam 201
6 Jackson 185.5