The BeerMonster Ducati team got their 2023 Bennetts British Superbike Championship campaign underway in fine style at Silverstone this afternoon with the opening race of the weekend seeing Tommy Bridewell and Glenn Irwin claim second and fifth place finishes, respectively.
Both riders had run consistently in the top ten during the three practice sessions aboard the F23-specification BeerMonster Ducati V4R machines, but Bridewell really shone in qualifying to not only lap two tenths of a second inside the lap record but also give the Penrith-based team their first pole position since September 2021 as Irwin qualified in fifth.
That gave the duo plenty of confidence ahead of the 22-lap BikeSocial Sprint race around the 1.64-mile National circuit and it was Bridewell who led in the early stages with Irwin slotting into fifth, as it quickly became a six-rider battle for the lead.
Positions continually changed but Bridewell never dropped lower than fourth and in the closing laps, he dug deep to move back into second, crossing the line 0.444s behind race winner Kyle Ryde. Teammate Irwin, meanwhile, ran in sixth for the middle third of the race but overhauled Jack Kennedy for fifth in the closing stages to make it two BeerMonster Ducatis in the top five.
Tommy Bridewell: “It was a good race and I’m proud of the team after the hard times they’ve had so for me to come in and give them a pole position and a podium straightaway has ticked a lot of boxes. After qualifying we knew we had good pace but until you get into the race, you can never be quite sure, but I really enjoyed it. When I saw there were seven laps to go, I knew I needed to pull my finger out and I was able to put the bike where I wanted and make the passes where I wanted. I felt strong and translating pole position into a podium is really good, so it bodes well for tomorrow.”
Glenn Irwin: “It was a good first race for me back on the Ducati and it was most definitely a learning race, but we were in the mix throughout and know what changes we need to make for tomorrow. The power delivery is one thing we’ll alter, particularly for turn three but if we’d have been offered two top fives in the first race, we’d have bitten your hand off. The F23 V4R looks to be a good step forward from the previous model and hats off to Tommy for putting it on the podium so with longer races tomorrow, I’m confident of improving upon today’s result.”
Johnny Mowatt, Team Co-ordinator: “It’s been a great start to the season and after qualifying went well, both riders put in two strong rides. Tommy’s not known as an out and out qualifier but fair play to him for taking pole and you could see how settled he looked in the race. He picked his moments to pass and was able to push on in the closing stages so with an extra eight laps tomorrow, it looks good. For Glenn, it was a learning race as he gets used to the Ducati once more, but he wasn’t a million miles away and, again, the signs are very good. Full credit to the boys and to Ducati and the team. Ducati have given us a great package in the F23R and whilst the last few weeks have been challenging with some long hours, the team have pulled it out of the bag so it’s great to have started in the manner that we have.”
The BeerMonster Ducati team’s superb start to the 2023 Bennetts British Superbike Championship continued at Silverstone today with Glenn Irwin giving Paul Bird’s team their first win of the campaign in the final race, which followed on from his third place earlier in the day.
Teammate Tommy Bridewell added to the celebrations with second and third place finishes in the two races to add to his podium of yesterday meaning the duo now sit in second and third overall in the early season standings.
Lap times from the previous day’s race meant the duo started the first 30-lap race from second and seventh respectively but whilst Tommy consolidated second on the opening lap, Glenn dropped back to 12th which gave him plenty of work to do. At the head of the field, it soon developed into a similar situation to yesterday’s race and for much of the race, Tommy ran in second place whilst Glenn continued to work his way forward and by half race distance, he was up to fifth.
With five laps to go, Tommy was still running in second but right in the wheel tracks of race leader Josh Brookes and Glenn had moved into third. However, everyone was denied a grandstand finish when the red flag came out due to an incident with three laps to go but, nevertheless, it gave the Penrith-based team their first double podium of the season, and first since 2021.
Temperatures were a bit cooler later in the day and Bridewell had more work to do this time as he started from ninth on the grid which was where he remained for the early laps. Glenn, however, slotted into sixth and by one third race distance, he was beginning to look threatening. The Ulsterman continually moved forward and after taking second place on lap 15, he hit the front for the first time three laps later. From there, he was never headed and although it remained close, he duly took his first win of the season.
Bridewell, meanwhile, found it hard to gain places initially and was still in eighth place at half race distance but from there on in, he was able to make passes stick although it wasn’t until there were three laps remaining that he moved into the top three. He didn’t quite have enough to overhaul Brookes but finished in a strong third to make it three podiums from the first three races of the season.
Tommy Bridewell: “First and foremost, it’s been a great start to the season and to get three podiums for the team first time out, and at one of my bogey circuits, is full credit to them. I got caught up with Kyle Ryde in the first race and the Yamahas have always been good in the last sector which enabled him to continually make a move at turn one. I had to keep coming back on him as I could see Josh had opened a slight gap. With four to five laps to go, I knew it was time to go but whilst it would have been tough to get by him, the red flag brought the race to an early end. The final race was tough due to starting from ninth and I perhaps underestimated how hard it was going to be, but I got up to third, so it’s been a great start to my time at BeerMonster Ducati.”
Glenn Irwin: “Things didn’t go to plan at the start of either race today with distinctly average starts, especially in the first race, and I gave myself a lot of work to do but the boys worked hard to give me a great package and I was able to come through. We were able to look at Tommy’s settings from yesterday and translated some of that onto our bike but both races were tough as it was hard to manage the tyre whilst trying to make as many passes as what I did. It was a bit cooler in the final race and there wasn’t much tyre left at the end, but we were all in the same boat, so I got the job done. We know there are still areas where we can improve and there’s plenty for us to learn with the F23 BeerMonster Ducati, but it’s been a great start so full credit to the team and also to Tommy.”
Johnny Mowatt, Team Co-ordinator: “There’s a massive sense of relief to get round one under our belts and out the way! We were looking a bit thin on the ground three to four weeks ago, but both riders stayed positive and rode way above our expectations so to come away with a win and four podiums with the F23 Ducati V4R for our new sponsors BeerMonster is simply superb. It’s been a fantastic effort by every single member of the team and whilst we know there’ll be challenges ahead, this gives us a tremendous platform to build on.”