Eight-times British Superbike champions Paul Bird Motorsport (PBM) got their 2023 season up and running with a successful three-day test at Circuito de Navarra in Spain which saw both Glenn Irwin and Tommy Bridewell well up the order throughout.
Testing the 2023 versions of the PBM Ducati V4R for the first time, both 32-year-old Irwin, from Carrickfergus in County Antrim, and 34-year-old Bridewell from Devizes in Wiltshire spent time acquainting themselves with their new team during the weekend as part of the first official Bennetts BSB test of pre-season.
2022 Bennetts BSB runner-up Irwin, in his second stint in the Lake District-based team, followed up a top six placing in Saturday’s opening day before ending Sunday’s two sessions in second place overall.
Bridewell meanwhile, Bennetts BSB runner-up in 2021 and third-placed last season on Ducati machinery for a rival team, slotted into the top ten on Saturday before upping the pace to end Sunday in fifth overall, having been fourth in the afternoon session.
Both riders contested today’s morning session with Tommy ending up third, one place in front of Glenn, as both riders ran full-race strategies before concluding the test having done a combined total of over 160 laps during the course of the weekend. With times combined over the three days, Glenn finished in third place with Tommy in fourth.
Glenn Irwin: “It was great to come to Spain for three enjoyable days to sample the new PBM Ducati V4R. I left this team just before that model came out, so I know all about it having raced against it for so long. It’s an incredible bike and I think I adapted to it fairly quickly which was pleasing. I felt comfortable and the team and I seem to work very well, and I enjoyed working with Tommy too. I’m happy and now looking to continue the progress in the UK tests and I think we have something that we can work with this year.”
Tommy Bridewell: “All in all, it’s been a good, productive test and it was nice to get back to riding a Superbike again. For me, it was about understanding and learning the team and seeing how the new bike reacts to the changes which was all good. We didn’t try and reinvent the wheel; we just wanted a positive direction so we did lots and lots of laps and made small changes and played with a few parameters. We aren’t too far away and it was great fun to work with the team and we have gelled really well. I’m now looking forward to the next test at Donington Park and continuing the development there.”
John Mowatt, Team Co-Ordinator: “Firstly, we’d like to welcome Tommy and Glenn to PBM. It’s been a really positive test for both riders. Not only was it important for both riders to gel with the team but to get up to speed with the new PBM Ducati F23. We’ve made minimal changes over the past two and half days and it seems the bikes are working really well. Now it’s time to head back and get ready for the Donington Park test, where the weather could be totally different. If so, it’ll be interesting to see how the bikes work in slightly colder conditions. I’d like to thank the team for all the hard work over the past few weeks, as we’ve covered a lot of miles getting things ready for this test.”
Bennetts British Superbike Championship, Official Test, Circuito de Navarra, combined times:
1. Kyle Ryde (OMG Racing Yamaha) 1m:37.586s
2. Leon Haslam (BMW) +0.933s
3. Glenn Irwin (PBM Ducati) +1.052s
4. Tommy Bridewell (PBM Ducati) +1.244s
5. Andrew Irwin (Honda Racing UK) +1.458s
6. Danny Kent (Lovell Kent Racing Honda) +1.792s
7. Christian Iddon (Oxford Products Racing Ducati) +1.885s
8. Jack Kennedy (Mar-Train Yamaha) +1.895s
9. Héctor Barberá (TAG Racing Honda) +2.145s
10. Charlie Nesbitt (MasterMac by Hawk Racing Honda) +2.358s