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Bridewell secures BSB Title at Brands Hatch
Bridewell secures BSB Title at Brands Hatch

Tommy Bridewell took the 2023 Bennetts British Superbike Championship title by half a point in a pulsating final day at Brands Hatch.

Glenn Irwin did pretty much all he could to try and take the title, but in the end he had to settle for second place, with the impressive Kyle Ryde taking third place.

The battle to become the 2023 Champion went down to the wire, on the last lap of the final race of the season at Brands Hatch as the leading trio in the title chase were pushed to the limit to decide the destiny of the championship.

Irwin had won the race earlier in the afternoon to half Bridewell’s advantage with just 5.5 points separating them going into the final race of the season and Ryde also within mathematical contention should the teammates falter.

Bridewell had initially grabbed the advantage, but Ryde soon had charged ahead to take the lead and with Irwin in fourth that would have been enough for Bridewell to become champion.

However, a hallmark Bennetts BSB race didn’t disappoint the huge crowds at the Kent circuit as a determined Irwin fought his way to the front by lap 11.

Irwin in the lead and with Ryde splitting him from his teammate Bridewell would have turned the tables in his favour, but the 20-lap race saw the championship advantage change in favour of the teammates no less than eight times.

Ryde then regained the lead, but the balance shifted again on the penultimate lap of the season when Irwin produced a rapid exit out of Surtees to pass the LAMI OMG Racing Yamaha rider at Hawthorn and once again move into the title hot seat. This left Bridewell needing to pass Ryde with just a lap and a half of the 2023 Bennetts BSB campaign left to run.

The decisive moment came at Druids on the final lap. Bridewell produced a strong run through Paddock Hill Bend to set up a run on Ryde into Druids before outbraking him and holding the position as they fired down Graham Hill Bend for the final time.

Irwin had managed to build a bit of a gap at the front of the pack, which he held to the chequered flag to claim his tenth win of the season. However, with Bridewell’s second position that was enough to take the title by the narrowest winning points margin in series history.

Bridewell dedicated the championship win to his late brother Ollie and to PBM Team Owner Paul Bird, who passed away last month, in one of the most emotional victories in history.

Ryde followed the BeerMonster Ducatis home to take third and ensure that the top three riders in this year’s standings shared the final podium of the season.

Speaking after the racing had finished, an emotional Bridwell said: “I dedicate everything I do in my life to my brother. The day I lost Ollie, I promised him I would become British Champion and today is that day.

“Everything in my life has been built towards this and I’ve dedicated every day to my late brother Ollie and to become BSB champion, so for it to finally happen has made my life complete. Full credit to Glenn, he’s brought both the best and worst out of me and he’s pushed me like no teammate has ever done before – he’s an unbelievable rider and certainly knows how to ride a bike!

“When Paul Bird took me on, I told him I’d give everything, so the title is dedicated to both him and Ollie and I just want to say a massive thank you to everyone involved in the team for the opportunity. Today was tough and tense, but we got it done.

“I don’t know how you can summarise that last race. There were points when Glenn was ahead in the championship and I was back then it was swinging either way. And to be able to stand here and say I finally won the Bennetts British Superbike Championship is absolutely unbelievable.

“It hasn’t sunk in and it probably won’t sink in for a while. I’m lost for words but what a year it’s been. Thank you to the team, thank you to everyone that supports me and hopefully it’s the first of many to come.”