27 December 2013
BSB Rider of the Year vote - 3rd: Tommy Bridewell
You voted in your thousands, but there can only be one winner... This is Crash.net's top ten countdown to the 2013 British Superbike Rider of the Year as voted for by you!
Top 10 BSB Rider of the Year 2013:
3. Tommy Bridewell
Team: Bathams Honda / Halsall Kawasaki / Milwaukee Yamaha
Bike: Honda CBR1000RR / Kawasaki ZX-10R / Yamaha YZF-R1
Championship points: 197
Championship position: 8th
A berth in the 'Title Showdown' aboard an unfancied bike, riding for a brand new team in a deal that was literally sealed on the eve of the opening round, the story of Tommy Bridewell's 2012 season was one of the year's most heartening tales.
Such an effort against the odds should have seen Bridewell with his pick of the rides for 2013, but his noble commitment to Supersonic Racing would ultimately work against him when the team opted out of the series after just one season, the Italian operation citing BMW's reluctance to provide greater factory support as its reasoning.
It meant Bridewell would begin the year having returned to the Quay Garage team he competed with in 2011, the Englishman nonetheless harbouring high hopes aboard the Bathams-backed CBR1000RR, a bike on which he had scored his one-and-only career BSB podium to date two years earlier.
However, while Bridewell was certainly quick on the bike, the machine would prove frustratingly frail, his trio of top five finishes from the opening-half of the season negated by five DNFs in just eight races. Just as they did in 2011, Bridewell and Quay Garage would part ways after just five events…
Sitting out round six altogether, Bridewell was back in action for round seven thanks to Martin Halsall's decision to expand his eponymous team. It was an announcement that was met with approval, if not lofty expectations, the privateer Kawasaki having spent much of its first season in BSB battling towards the back-end of the field in the hands of rookie Lee Costello.
However, in Bridewell's hands the ZX-10R was transformed into an unexpected front runner from the off, the Devizes man returning to the top five straight away at Oulton Park before producing an astonishing run to the podium at Cadwell Park to prompt a few misty-eyes in the paddock. Going on to notch up another top three finish at Donington Park just two weeks' later, while Bridewell's awful start to the season left him with too much to do to reach the Title Showdown once again, his status in BSB had never been loftier…
A third change of team for the final three events would see Bridewell conclude the season aboard the well-supported Milwaukee Yamaha team, knowing full well a strong showing here would likely earn him a full-time deal in 2014.
And so it proved, Bridewell adding to his podium tally on his debut outing aboard the YZF-R1 at Assen before finishing on the rostrum in both Silverstone races. He may not have been in the 'Title Showdown', but Bridewell arguably deserved to be.
In the end, eighth in the final rankings would betray those initial season struggles, but at the same time shows just how much ground Bridewell would recover by its conclusion.
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