Tommy Bridewell: BSB Revelation
Tommy Bridewell was the revelation at Brands.
On the strictly unofficial timing during BSB testing at Guadix he’d been a couple of seconds off the pace on the Quay Garage Honda but at Brands was mightly impressive, even though he didn’t finish either race.
Bridewell ran near the front of the pack in both races but with his traction control not working in the first one, he eventually lost the front at Graham Bill Bend, pushing too hard on the brakes to compensate for the lack of drive coming out of the corners.
And then he clashed with Suzuki’s Michael Laverty and took a trip to the gravel at Druids in race two.
It was scant reward for the 21-year old from Etchilhampton, Devizes, who topped free practice on Saturday and was never outside the top six all weekend – in fact qualifying was his worst showing when he had a crank sensor go down while he was waiting to go out for Q3.
That robbed the bike of certain electronic rider aid elements.
The impressive thing is that Bridewell is not only a privateer, he’s a privateer on a bike that was built for the 2007 season by Paul Bird Motorsport and raced by Shane Byrne in Stobart colours.
Then it was refurbished and raced briefly in WSB by Gregorio Lavilla before Ian Woollacott at Quay Garage bought it.
Bridewell said: “People talk about how old the bike is but it’s irrelevant. There’s only a certain amount of time that comes from me riding so hard. The rest has to come from the bike. And believe me, it’s a phenomenal bit of kit.
“The only thing I’ve noticed this weekend is that when I followed Stuart Easton he seemed to be able to square off the corner and drive harder than I could.
"I’m carrying corner speed but he’s getting off the corner better. We’re talking Clearways and Druids.
“From the sound, I’d say his bike picks up the revs slightly quicker than mine. We could sort that with electronics. With our Marelli system we can adjust the power delivery in the first two gears."
And that’s the point. The bike might be 2007 but is probably equal in spec to anything in the pit lane with blipper box, traction control, anti wheel and air bleed engine braking.
The chassis is also top-spec with Ohlins TTX forks, K-Tech modified shock, and a KR swing-arm (that Swan Honda have only switched to this year.)
“My ambition this year was to be on the podium a considerable amount,” said Bridewell.
“I came here as an underdog which was fine by me. My ambition for this weekend was to finish top six and then build on that as the season progressed.
"So I’m well over the moon to be right up their in practice. My race tyre times were very good too so I knew for someone to beat me they’ll have to run 45s in the race!”
The team is also one of the smallest in the BSB paddock with John and James Buckingham looking after the bike along with Woollacott who said: “There’s no difference in the bike’s specification with Tommy to when Gary Mason rode it last year and won the BSB Cup.
“The only difference is that Tommy likes the electronics whereas Gary didn’t. He didn’t use them until Croft.
"Tommy’s got on the bike and loves it. All we’ve done this winter is paint the wheels, put new bodywork on and got a new rider. That’s the cheapest form of tuning you can get!”