British Superbikes, Knockhill: Bridewell - “I needed to lead into turn one!”

Tommy Bridewell got the holeshot and never looked back as he dominated the opening race of the Knockhill weekend after a rain delay.

Tommy Bridewell, BSB, 2024, Knockhill, race one, 15th June
Tommy Bridewell, BSB, 2024, Knockhill, race one, 15th June
© Ian Hopgood Photography

Tommy Bridewell pulled closer to old rival Glenn Irwin in the championship standings after a commanding win from pole for Honda UK racing, his first win since joining the manufacturer, and his first ever at Knockhill.

The reigning champion was convinced that gaining pole was a huge advantage as the weather came into play for the Scottish round of the British Superbikes championship:

“I said earlier the race for me was won in qualifying, within reason. Qualifying here is so crucial, then we obviously had the downpour.

I was unsure if the track was even remotely going to get anywhere near as dry as that. I was able to ride, pretty much how I have been riding in the dry but I also knew when I was sat on the grid, how crucial it was to get the start into turn one - I needed to lead into turn one"!

Despite getting the holeshot and the lead into the first corner, Bridewell felt he had been sluggish off the line, but caution from his rivals on the drying track ensured he still lead the way:

“I didn’t make a good start - I was a little bit half asleep to be honest, luckily I still managed to get the lead into turn one”!

The race distance was shortened from 30 to 25 laps after the schedule was delayed by over an hour by the weather, a factor which Bridewell used to his advantage to push on his slick tyres:

“I knew I had five laps in my hand with the tyre life, so I could go hard at the start instead of trying to conserve my tyres and obviously where it was a little bit patchy, around the long left out of seven, it almost forced you to roll the throttle to save some tyre”.

Tommy Bridewell, BSB, 2024, Knockhill, race one, 15th June
Tommy Bridewell, BSB, 2024, Knockhill, race one, 15th June
© Ian Hopgood Photography

Getting to almost a second lead was Bridewell’s signal to go for a breakaway, but the #1 then found it hard to stop, amassing a huge gap:

“As soon as I pushed hard it just kept going up! I can remember saying to myself ‘look, your 4 second gap is fine - around here 4 seconds is a long, you know, a really big gap’.

So I saw 4 seconds, then weirdly in my brain I was like ‘oh, 14 laps to go or whatever laps to go, and I was like Tom - it’s not enough, you need more’. So then I carried on pushing and when I got the gap just like sort of 5, 6 seconds I realised that actually now I can ride a little bit safer.

But as always, when I felt like I rolled off the pace a little I didn’t feel quite as comfortable, so I tried to then pick the pace back up”.

That pace not only brought the race win, his first for Honda and their first since they had Glenn Irwin aboard their 2022 machine, but also the fastest lap, which sees Bridewell back on pole for the sprint race on Sunday.

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