I’ve got to say I’m a bit surprised at the amount of negativity around the web forums towards Tommy Hill getting the Worx Suzuki for Mallory BSB this weekend.
I don’t really understand it.
On one hand you get people complaining that the top rides should be given to the younger riders, then when a 24-year-old gets picked, it causes a public outcry among the fans.
At least Tommy is a BSB winner, granted only once at Cadwell after Leon Haslam ran Gregorio Lavilla off the track during an epic Airwaves Ducati scrap for the lead (incidentally, though Colin Wright wasn’t happy with Leon that day, he wasn’t over impressed with Greg either who he thought should have had enough experience to back off out of the confrontation – but that’s another story).
The thing is, I don’t think we ever saw Tommy’s true potential when he raced in BSB. There were always unanswered questions in any debate about his ability because he never really got the chance to compete on equal terms.
Let me explain: Firstly he won the R6 Cup and was thrown into the deep end onto a superbike. That’s a huge ask of anyone and arguably, Tommy adapted better than most -especially when you realise one fact easily overlooked is that the youngster never had the benefit of an experienced team-mate to draw from!
He also bore the brunt of a couple bold ‘experiments’ by Rob McElnea’s then Virgin-backed Yamaha team, namely the switch to Pirelli tyres when no one dared go near the Italian product, and the big-bang irregular firing order R1, nicknamed the Pig.
So with that background to consider it’s maybe not surprising he earned a reputation for being fast but flaky - ‘a bit of a crasher.’
The reverse of that is he learned so much from his time with McElnea, including bike set-up and racecraft that will stand him in good stead for the rest of his career.
Obviously the last two years on the world stage have been little short of disaster, plus he’s been on the sidelines for six weeks now, so we shouldn’t expect too much from him at Mallory when he makes his Worx Suzuki debut – though at least he’s had the benefit of some track testing, something the previous incumbent Michael Rutter didn’t get.
While I’m pleased for Tommy to get a top ride, I think Rutter was a bit hard done by. Looking at his lap times there’s no doubt he’s still competitive but seemed more let down by technical issues than any lack in ability. I’m surprised the team didn’t stick with Rutter, take him testing and get the bike really working for him.
The truth probably is that they looked at Tommy as someone prepared to really hang it out to chase a podium finish rather than Rutter , who we all know needs confidence from ‘the prefect set-up’ before he’ll do the same.
I thought it interesting that Tommy made reference to the power of the bike shocking him. Or did he mean how hard the power hits…..?
Lets see how things pan out at Mallory – not the ideal track to make a debut on what is arguably the most powerful bike in BSB.
I saw people shouting up Tommy Bridewell’s name as a potential Worx rider too but I think that would have been a mistake for Tommy.
Right now it seems he’s more than comfortable with the old Team NB Suzuki and though it’s going to take him and the Bridewell family one hell of a financial battle to keep on track, he’s probably better off seeing the season out on bike he’s at one with.
Tommy’s presently under no pressure and can just get on with enjoying his racing. He not only deserves that, he needs it. A mid-term switch to a bigger team could turn his season on its head and I think that would be counter-productive.
Judging by the results so far, he’s come on leaps and bounds this year and, if he just keeps racking up the results as he’s been doing, he’s bound to attract interest for 2010.
Rock on Tommy: Hill and Bridewell!