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Eazi Grip

Jack Kennedy gets another podium and Tommy Bridewell finishes second at Oulton Park

Kennedy bags another podium and Bridewell powers his Fireblade to fourth

Honda Racing UK take home more silverware in Supersport and just miss out on the Superbike podium.

Glorious sunshine baked the tarmac of Oulton Park as a Saturday schedule packed with qualifying and opening races took place. Having placed himself well within the top twelve fastest times across the Free Practice sessions a day previously, Tommy Bridewell left himself with work to do in the opening Bennetts British Superbike race of the weekend with a qualifying lap quick enough for eighth on the grid. Meanwhile, after narrowly missing out on progressing through Qualifying 1, teammates Dean Harrison and Andrew Irwin found themselves sixteenth and seventeenth on the grid respectively.

Nonetheless, all were undeterred by their frustrating qualifying sessions as the lights went out and they roared away from the grid towards Old Hall. Ever the racer and never afraid to get his elbows out Tommy was able to hold his position in the early fight for the top ten. Come lap six, he was up into sixth position and desperate to reel in the train of riders ahead. A flurry of fast laps followed and with a brilliant overtaking manoeuvre on Danny Kent, Tommy was into fifth and reeling in the OMG pair of Vickers and Ryde.

By two-thirds distance, eager to continue his assault up the finishing order Tommy made yet another inch-perfect pass to scythe past Ryan Vickers into fourth and hot on the heels of Kyle Ryde ahead in the final podium position. At this point the gap to Ryde ahead was over a second and just four laps remained.

Despite a valiant effort to bridge that gap, Tommy crossed the finish line in fourth position and just half a second away from a debut podium in Honda colours. Nevertheless, he takes all of the positives from a hugely competitive day, not least a fourth-place grid slot for tomorrow’s opening race.

In a race for the final point-scoring position, Dean Harrison emerged victorious over his teammate in a last-lap battle for fifteenth. Both he and Andrew will be hoping for more on Monday however in what is an extremely tight midfield fight.

On his CBR600RR, Jack Kennedy converted his front row grid position into a third palace finish and another podium for the team after a race-long battle with the larger capacity machines of Ben Currie and Luke Stapleford. The three were effectively in a race of their own at the front of the field pulling away and with nothing between them as the three lapped under the Supersport lap record. With pace as hot as this Jack looks to capitalise on an improved starting position of second in tomorrow’s race.

In Superstock, John McGuinness MBE targets a point scoring finish in his only race of the weekend tomorrow after setting his quickest ever lap at Oulton Park. He will line up on the grid in seventeenth.

Tommy Bridewell

“Qualifying was a little difficult to tell the truth because we had to go straight into setting a lap time after being off the bike since yesterday. I prefer to build into it and then have a bit of a time attack after. I think we went a little bit the wrong way in Qualifying, but ultimately it was enough for the top eight, and I can work from there. The race was a bit of a challenge because when you are starting eighth it’s a bit of a dog-fight. I held my own off the line but I had a fair few riders to pass as I was coming through. I knew that I had to be patient and the race slowly came back to me. I was hanging on to the front guys and I am really happy with the way I rode and the way the bike performed. For my second full distance race I can’t be disappointed with fighting for the podium and coming home in fourth. We have the sprint tomorrow and another longer distance race so we will look to make a step overnight and fight for that first podium.”

Dean Harrison

As a whole I think it went reasonably well, albeit the start wasn’t the best as I haven’t quite got the hang of the start procedure with the lights on the dash. So we will definitely have a look at that and put something in place for tomorrow which will help us get away from the line a little bit better which will then help with the early parts of the race. The mid part of the race was pretty good and I could hang in there with Andrew and some of the others around fifteenth. Ahead of us though there was another group but they had just managed to gap us, which was frustrating as I just couldn’t quite get to them. The times between us in that little battle are super tight, so hopefully we can find a little something and move further forward tomorrow.”

Andrew Irwin

It isn’t coming so easy at the moment. There are a few things that I need to work on and maybe sometimes I need to remember where I was twelve months ago. There are still some limitations with my arm but I think we can work on that and make a step tomorrow. Honestly, on the bike I don’t feel too bad, the bike and the team are working well, I just need to do some work physically and put things together tomorrow. We have two races to have another go at it.”

Jack Kennedy

“We actually had a bit of a frustrating qualifying as we got caught out with the track temperature increase which meant the change we had made didn’t quite work. Despite that though we still stuck it on the front row and got the job done. Then we made a bit of a change heading into the race which I have to say worked perfectly so big thank you to the team at Honda and Ohlins. I could really push and make the difference in the race to stick with the front guys. I am super happy with my race pace, to be under the lap record and to stay with Stapleford and Currie challenging throughout is great. It just goes to show how hard we are pushing at the front as we broke away from the rest of the field. We brought home another podium which is more valuable points and it enables us to keep on building into the year ahead.”

John McGuinness

“I think we have been building into it nicely, a couple of days testing earlier in the week learning the bike and just getting some miles under my belt. The preparation for the road racing has been absolutely excellent, I am loving this new 2024 Fireblade! I loved riding at Navarra on the Superbike and I love riding my Stocker here. I am lapping faster than I have ever gone, y’know I’m into the 37’s which I have never done before. I think the edge of the points is where we are at and if I can score some points tomorrow before packing up my motorhome and heading to the North West 200 I will be a very happy John McGuinness.”

Tommy Bridewell finishes second in the sprint race

Tommy Bridewell delivered a sublime ride from fourth on the grid in race one to rocket his Fireblade into a superb second place finish, and in doing so returned Honda Racing UK to the podium in Bennetts British Superbikes.

The shorter sprint race of twelve laps saw Tommy battling within a leading group of four as they slowly edged away from the chasing pack behind. Tommy’s strong start to the race and gutsy overtakes from the outset paved the way for this race long duel with riders Danny Kent, Christian Iddon and Glenn Irwin out in front.

With the strengths of the Fireblade clear to see in the second half of the lap, Tommy used all of his racing know-how to make decisive overtakes on his competitors, passing both Kent and Iddon in separate manoeuvres at the same corner. The move on Iddon for second place came on lap eight and at this stage the gap to first was over half a second. With four racing laps remaining the 2023 champion set about chasing down his old adversary, picking off tenths lap after lap. Despite closing in on the lead, there were simply not enough laps remaining to mount an assault on the win.

Nonetheless, this second place finish proves that the Honda Fireblade in the hands of Tommy is a force to be reckoned with, even in the early stages of the development cycle of this new machine.

In the second Superbike race of the day a poor start meant that Tommy simply lost too much time with the leading pack as he attempted to fight once more for the podium positions. He did however consolidate his weekend with another top six finish, scoring more valuable points for his championship defence.

Meanwhile, in a race long duel for the points in race one, Andrew Irwin emerged victorious in his battle with Peter Hickman for fourteenth position. He scores more points and continues to build into his season ahead. He then backed up this point scoring ride with a fifteenth place finish in race two.

There was disappointment for Dean Harrison however as a technical problem on the warm up lap of the opening race meant that he was unable to start the race. This difficulty was then compounded in race two as his failure to set a lap time resulted in a starting position at the back of the field. Rising to this challenge and with a determined ride through the pack, Dean narrowly missed out on more points as he finished in sixteenth.

In the sole Supersport race of the day, Dubliner Jack Kennedy delivered yet more silverware for the Honda team as he put together his strongest race of the year so far with a fantastic ride to second. At times leading the way on his CBR600RR, he now sits at the top of the championship standings by a single point. A just reward for his consistency and measured approach to the season ahead. Key developments coming for the bike and already competitive, he keeps his feet firmly planted on the ground as his championship challenge builds.

And in a rescheduled Superstock race, John McGuinness MBE narrowly missed out on a point scoring ride with a seventeenth place finish just behind his 2023 Fireblade mounted road racing competitor Conor Cummins.

The roads team now departs for the North West 200 with practice sessions scheduled for Wednesday 8th May.

Tommy Bridewell

“I think all in all this has been a positive weekend, for me I have to focus on the steps that we are making and to be fair I can’t be disappointed. Yes I want to win, I want to win every single race, but we proved that we have got podium pace. I’ve raced on other bikes and know what other bikes are capable of so to do that at this stage of the development cycle of a new bike is just fantastic. Once we get the next stage complete then I think there are a lot of people out there who are going to be a little bit worried. Credit to Honda, thank you very much for all of their hard work and thank you to all my personal sponsors. People doubted the move and doubted me, which for me is a massive motivator and I am really proud of myself and of Honda. This project is long term and there are only exciting times ahead. In the last race I just got stuck after a poor start which made it hard to make progress, then once the front guys had that gap to us I just couldnt get to them and used up my tyre trying. I am slightly disappointed with the last race but I focus on the positives. Three solid point scoring rides on the board. I think we need to keep consolidating these decent strong point results at the moment then we will be happy. There will come a moment when we will need to do more, but right now we have some time to develop and then the wins and more will be the target. Right now we will keep chipping away, keep working hard and then see how we fair up at Donington in a few weeks time.”

Andrew Irwin

“When things are difficult it is very frustrating, but we won’t give up. The potential is there and when we put it all together we will be fighting for the positions that I know we are capable of. It has been a weekend of three finishes as I continue to rebuild, which is ultimately not the goal for where we want to be but it is certainly part of the journey to get there. My focus is to continue working hard to take steps forward & to keep on improving. We have two weeks to go away, re energise and we go again at Donington.”

Dean Harrison

Not the best day of racing but it very much is what it is, we had a technical in the warm up lap of race one which meant unfortunately we had to miss that race. The team then did a good job to get us back out but we had to start from the back of the grid, which lets face it is never easy. I think the difficulty was that it just took too long to get through on everyone and into the fight with the guys with similar pace. I was swapping paint with Billy for a few laps but then I just lost too much time with Hickmans crash – I had to dive to the outside of the track and get hard on the brakes because I didn’t know which way he was going to go as he got up. Then I could see Andrew coming back to me, but there was just too much of a gap. We’ve got through the weekend and now we’re off to the North West, which is always such a great event.”

Jack Kennedy

“It has been a great weekend to step onto the podium in both races, which is absolutely amazing, especially so early in this project at only round two. Amazing job by the Honda team and Ohlins for giving me a great bike which I could push on and make the difference with. My focus today was to only focus on myself, to be consistent and to be fast which is exactly what we were able to do and things came to us as a result. I managed to pass Ben and lead for a lap or two which was nice, but we just don’t have the speed at the moment to hold on to him at the end. We’ve got the championship lead through our consistency which is amazing, yes we haven’t got the win yet, but we are working hard to continue developing this package and we will keep working hard heading to Donington in two weeks time.”

John McGuinness

For where I am in my career and with my targets I am honestly super happy. I think if I’d gone with the next group up the road sooner I’d have been in the fight for some points but hey. I got a mega mega start of the line and the bike just hooked up, I’d done a row of them on the run to turn one but then it all went a bit mad and I got beat up a bit, which I think is why we couldn’t get onto the next group. But you know, I’ve got through the weekend in one piece and we’re off to the North West, the job’s great, bike’s mint and we’re happy.”

Posted on Tuesday, May 7th, 2024 in News

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