BeerMonster Ducati’s Tommy Bridewell extended his lead in the Bennetts British Superbike Championship today with a thrilling victory in the opening BikeSocial Sprint at Snetterton.
The weekend started well for both Bridewell and teammate Glenn Irwin as they placed second and sixth respectively after yesterday’s two free practice sessions, and that trend continued into today. Indeed, after topping the third free practice session, Irwin took second in qualifying on the F23-specification V4R BeerMonster Ducati with Bridewell two places further back.
That put them in second and fourth on the grid respectively for the afternoon’s 12-lap encounter around the 2.96-mile circuit and it was Irwin who made a better start as he slotted into second behind Jason O’Halloran as Bridewell dropped back to eighth after running wide at the first corner.
A lap later and Irwin took the lead for the first time with Bridewell up to sixth and by half race distance, the duo were running in first and second as Bridewell tore his way through the field. Indeed, he led the race from laps seven to ten as he and Irwin battled for the lead.
All the time O’Halloran and Josh Brookes were closing in but on the final lap, Tommy grabbed the lead at the end of the back straight with a great move and although it looked like a BeerMonster Ducati 1-2 was on the cards, Brookes pushed Glenn back to third at the final chicane before O’Halloran relegated him to fourth on the dash to the line.
The result sees Bridewell extend his lead in the series to 17 points over Irwin going into tomorrow’s two races over 16 laps each.
Tommy Bridewell: “That was a mega race! Glenn was riding well but I’ve been keeping my head down, working with my team and doing all the hard work so it was a pleasing race. I felt like I had better pace than the others, but I knew Glenn would be determined enough to come back at me and so it proved. He was better in a couple of places but, overall, I felt stronger, and the bike was working well so felt confident of getting back ahead. I was so determined to win the race and it’s great to see my boss Paul Bird smiling. I’m here to win the Championship and I’ve got the team and infrastructure to do it so wins like today are what I need.”
Glenn Irwin: “We had some issues yesterday so today’s FP3 was like my FP1, but I felt comfortable on the bike when we got to qualifying. In the race, I felt strong and was surprised when the gap went up to 0.6 seconds as I wasn’t deliberately trying to put the hammer down. When Tommy came by me, I could see he was strong, and I learnt a lot from him. I was struggling with the rear through the Bomb Hole and Coram and whilst I was defensive at the end of the straight on the penultimate lap, I wasn’t on the final lap which allowed Tommy through. He beat me fair and square so hats off to him and although it’s very frustrating not to even finish on the podium after leading for so long, it was a good, fun race.”
Johnny Mowatt, Team Coordinator: “It’s been another good day and fair play to Tommy, he’s been strong all weekend. He came with a plan and focused on long runs in practice, so his bike was set up for the race as opposed to qualifying and it paid dividends. Glenn has been behind after suffering a bike issue yesterday and is essentially a couple of sessions behind everyone else, but you could see he was strong in the race and only a bit of bad luck prevented him finishing on the podium. We weren’t anticipating a four-way scrap so we’ll have to be on our guard tomorrow but there’s no reason why we won’t be fighting it out for the wins again in tomorrow’s races.”
BeerMonster Ducati rider Tommy Bridewell was in scintillating form at round five of the 2023 Bennetts British Superbike Championship at Snetterton with a hat-trick of victories increasing his advantage at the top of the table as he left the Norfolk track unbeaten.
The Wiltshire ace followed up his BikeSocial Sprint race win yesterday with a superb double victory today to extend his championship lead to 25 points over teammate Glenn Irwin, who took second and fourth place finishes today to make it 20 podiums for the team after the first five rounds.
Bridewell and Irwin lined up in first and third respectively for the opening 16-lap race today, but a red flag brought the race to a premature halt on just the seventh lap, and it was restarted over eight laps.
Tommy slotted into third with Glenn in fifth on the opening lap of the restart and a lap later, Bridewell was up to second on the F23-specification BeerMonster V4R Ducati before on lap three, he was in the lead after overhauling the fast-starting Josh Brookes. From there, he never looked back and increased his lead on each lap, eventually taking the chequered flag by 1.6 seconds from Brookes for his second win of the weekend.
Ulsterman Irwin had a more eventful race, dropping back to sixth at one point, and it looked as if fifth was the best he could hope for. However, he dug deep and on the final lap moved ahead of Jason O’Halloran to take his second fourth position of the weekend.
The final race went over the full 16-lap distance and saw both Tommy and Glenn dispute the lead with Brookes, Leon Haslam, and Ryan Vickers. Positions changed throughout but when Brookes went out, Irwin took over in front with Bridewell moving up to second with three laps to go.
Tommy then took over the lead and ultimately held on although it was mightily close with his eventual margin of victory over Glenn just 0.032 seconds as they flashed across the line at the end of the hard-fought race.
It was Bridewell’s first ever multiple win in the series and the third 1-2 for Paul Bird’s Lake District-based team this season as his riders remained first and second in the title race heading to the next round at Brands Hatch in a fortnight.
Tommy Bridewell: “What can I say!? It’s been a great weekend and these types of meetings don’t come around too often, so I’m delighted to take my first ever treble. We’ve hardly changed the bike all weekend and the team absolutely hit the nail on the head with set-up so a huge thanks to them. It was nice to go toe to toe with Glenn in the final race with neither of us willing to give an inch, but it was good, clean racing. I focused on preserving the tyre in the early stages and we exchanged places on more than one occasion, so it was nice to come out on top and get the job done.”
Glenn Irwin: “We could have come away with three second place finishes this weekend but have had to settle for a second and two fourths, so it hurt us in the points although we’ve managed to consolidate second in the standings. I lost time in the first race battling with Jason and it would have been better if we’d have worked together but I was finally able to take a podium in the final race. I stayed patient when Josh was leading and when he went out, I tried to keep a little in reserve but when Tommy came by, I wanted to get back into the lead straight away. It was a good battle with Tommy so hats off to him; I never gave up and am happy with the result.”
Johnny Mowatt, Team Coordinator: “It’s been a fantastic weekend and to be sitting here with both Tommy and Glenn on four wins apiece and with 20 podiums in total is phenomenal. Tommy’s been a revelation this weekend; we sat down before we got here and spoke about only having one win so far this season and now was the time to kick on and make his championship challenge. It’s fair to say he’s done exactly that and sent out a message to the rest of the field. From Glenn’s perspective, he was unlucky not have been on the podium in all three races and he got caught in some silly battles in the first race today, which upset his rhythm. We made some small changes to the bike for the final race, and he was able to fight at the front, the end result being another 1-2 for the team. Both riders are giving everything so we’ll look forward to Brands Hatch now, which should be another strong circuit for us.”