Glenn Irwin came to Brands Hatch still chasing his first victory of the year, with the final triple-header finale being his last opportunity to win on the Be Wiser Ducati Panigale R.
Glenn put in impressive times during practice sessions around the GP circuit, topping the timesheets in Free Practice 2. All three Ducati riders made it into the top five during qualifying with Glenn lining up on the front row in 2nd behind pole-sitter and championship contender Jake Dixon (RAF Regular & Reserves Kawasaki).
A great start saw Glenn leading as the field headed up to Druids for the first time. He led for the entire race, and although Andrew climbed up from 4th on the grid to follow close behind, nothing was stopping the determined older brother from taking the chequered flag and his first win of 2018. In the final stage of the race Andrew was passed by Dixon and Tarran Mackenzie (McAMS Yamaha) to finish just off the podium in a strong 4th position.
Tommy Bridewell had a frustrating race after crashing out unhurt on Lap 5. The Moto Rapido rider was running in 8th just behind Richard Cooper in the opening laps. But the Buildbase Suzuki crashed at Druids with Tommy losing the front of his bike immediately after the incident, bringing a premature end to his opening race of the weekend. Congratulations went to Leon Haslam (JG Speedfit Kawasaki) whose 6th place finish was enough to see him claim the 2018 British Superbike Championship.
Tommy Bridewell put in an impressive performance in the wet during the first of Sunday’s races at the British Superbikes Brands Hatch season finale. Starting from the 3rd row of the grid in 8th, Tommy started well to climb four places on his opening lap around the GP circuit.
Tommy went on to pass Jason O’Halloran (Honda Racing) on Lap 5 for 2nd and then passed Haslam to lead the race for a couple of laps. As the thrilling race went on, the leading group of riders swapped places several times with Dixon briefly leading before crashing out. With Haslam pulling a very slight gap out at the front in the closing stages of the race the battle for 2nd was between Tommy and O’Halloran. Tommy took the position from O’Halloran on the penultimate lap to bring his Panigale R home in a strong 2nd place, matching his season-best result scored at Oulton Park with the Moto Rapido Ducati team.
The Be Wiser duo of Andrew and Glenn Irwin started from 2nd and 3rd respectively, but neither were able to match their performances yesterday. Despite initially leading the race, Andrew crashed out unhurt on Lap 3, while Glenn finished the race in 7th.
The final British Superbike race of the season at Brands Hatch took place in wet conditions at the Kent circuit. Lining up in 4th, Tommy Bridewell didn’t get the best of starts on his Moto Rapido Ducati Panigale R but by the end of the opening lap around the GP circuit had moved back up into 4th before passing the 2018 BSB Champion Haslam for 3rd position. A couple of laps later Tommy put a move on O’Halloran for 2nd place behind Cooper. The two riders then gapped the rest of the field as the race went on. Tommy posted two consecutive fastest laps, but ultimately Cooper’s pace proved too much to compete against. Tommy opted to bring his Panigale R home safely to claim another 2nd place, with a 7.5s lead over third-placed finisher Dixon.
Tommy’s double podium was enough to see him move up into 7th in the championship and claim the Rider’s Cup, finishing the 2018 season on a high.
The last race of the season did not go to plan for Be Wiser Ducati, with Glenn Irwin running outside a points-scoring position and pitting on Lap 11. Andrew Irwin was on course for a Top 10 finish but crashed out of his last race for the team in the slippy conditions on Lap 18 of 20. Despite retiring from the race, Glenn had already done enough to cement 3rd in the 2018 British Superbike Championship. Andrew finished in 17th, just behind the injured Shane ‘Shakey’ Byrne he replaced at Round 4 at Snetterton.
Tommy Bridewell (Moto Rapido Ducati #46)
Race 1 – DNF, Race 2 – 2nd, Race 3 – 2nd, Rider’s Cup Champion
“To fight back from the start of the year to standing here now with another double podium, finishing 7th in the championship, it’s a big achievement for me and the team. We’ve only just taken stride after stride after stride. Credit, absolute hats off, to the Moto Rapido Ducati. They put every penny they’ve got into that team. A special shout out to Ollie and Sue at Solent Scientific, longest lasting sponsor, and all my sponsors and everyone who believes in me and keeps me going. As always, dedicated to my brother Ollie. He’s the one that keeps me motivated, keeps me focused. Never give up, never drop my head and I never will. So, I’m looking forward to next year. New bike, new challenge. Nothing’s been announced yet but It’s going to be a phenomenal year with a super-fast teammate.”
Steve Moore – Moto Rapido Ducati Team Owner
“Joining half way through the season, the Showdown was mathematically possible but realistically not, so the best we could expect from the season was P7 in the championship and get the Rider’s Cup. And that’s tough. That’s really hard to do. They’re fast guys out there. Coming into this weekend, I think we were 11th when we came here after the crash at Assen and then to have a pretty good weekend today is remarkable. Over the moon with it. We’ve had a little sweet spot with the bike for the setup in the wet, which we knew from Oulton Park already. Tommy felt good in the wet and we know that he’s strong in the beginning of the race, so it went to plan. Very, very pleased.”Glenn Irwin (Be Wiser Ducati #2)
Race 1 – 1st, Race 2 – 7th, Race 3 – DNF, 3rd in Championship
“After yesterday’s race win, it’s disappointing to end my term with PBM and Be Wiser Ducati with only a seventh place finish to show for my efforts and it was especially frustrating as we’d made a chassis change which unfortunately didn’t work out in the way that we’d hoped. The positive is that the race win on Saturday gave me enough of a buffer to clinch third place overall, something which I’m over the moon with. Retiring from my final race with PBM was a real shame but a massive thank you to them for everything they’ve done for me over the last three years.”
Andrew Irwin (Be Wiser Ducati #18)
Race 1 – 4th, Race 2 – DNF, Race 3 – DNF
“We had good pace in the wet today and in the first race I felt comfortable and confident that I could have stood on the podium but unfortunately I made a small mistake and crashed out. Conditions for the second race were worse and from having an awesome bike in race one, I had very little grip at all and the crash in race two came out of nowhere. It’s not how I wanted to end my time with PBM and Be Wiser Ducati but I’m very grateful for the opportunity and I can’t thank them enough. It’s arguably the best time in the paddock and they’ve been great since day one, so I wish them well for 2019.”
Paul Bird – Be Wiser Ducati Team Owner
“It’s very sad we’ve had call it a day with Andrew and Glenn. We’ve had 3 great years with Glenn. We haven’t had too many wins but hopefully we’ve set him on a way to set his Superbike career up. Andrew’s done a great job. He’s had to fill some big shoes this year. The team was built around Shane Byrne so he’s had a very difficult job to do to jump on his bike and run it at the front, so he’s done a great job. I’d like to thank both of them immensely.”