5th – Tommy Bridewell
Average poll score out of ten: 6.8
Following the 'musical chairs' of the 2013 season, which saw him switch between Honda, Kawasaki and Yamaha machinery, Tommy Bridewell's efforts on the latter bike earned him a full-time ride with the Milwaukee-backed Shaun Muir Racing team in 2014.
A rider who has often performed well and above the machinery beneath him, Bridewell's move to Milwaukee Yamaha was a dubbed as a genuine – and well-deserved - shot at riding top-level bike with a title-challenging team.
In reality, the current generation Yamaha R1 is nearing the end of its life cycle and, as mentioned by those who have ridden it beforehand, remains an occasionally tricky bike to get the most from.
Indeed, the opening half of the year would see Bridewell overshadowed by Josh Brookes – also moving to Yamaha over the winter – and though there was enough evidence to suggest he would be a comfortable Title Showdown contender, there was an evident gulf between himself and the top three of Brookes, Shane Byrne and Ryuichi Kiyonari.
However, by the time the Showdown loomed, Bridewell's fortunes were on the up, peaking with a long-awaited maiden BSB victory at Cadwell Park. Though the circumstances of the win – when an unexpected red flag stoppage classified him as the winner despite having only 'led' at the line due to a better run out of the final corner the previous lap – were fortuitous, it didn't diminish the emotion of his success and it spurred him on to a strong end to the year.
Five podiums in the closing stages of the season spearheaded Bridewell into a fierce – and personal – scrap with Brookes for third overall, the Devizes rider prevailing with a mighty effort in the final race of the season.
By finishing third, Bridewell has officially shaken off the 'underdog' tag and the man himself knows now that regular wins are surely the next step in 2015. A return to BMW machinery – a bike on which he starred in 2012 – should give him that impetus…
BSB Rider of the Year poll 2014
6. Dan Linfoot
7. Peter Hickman
8. Josh Waters
9. Josh Brookes
10. Howie Mainwaring
Tommy Bridewell in the BSB Rider of the Year poll
Top 10 BSB Rider of the Year 2013:
Top 10 BSB Rider of the Year 2012:
Top 10 BSB Rider of the Year 2011:
Top 10 BSB Rider of the Year 2010:
Top 10 BSB Rider of the Year 2009:
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