Bridewell on WorldSBK shot: Not many would do what I did!

"They would disagree, but a lot of riders wouldn’t have taken it – they would have said ‘I want to, but can we go from the next round…’"
Bridewell on WorldSBK shot: Not many would do what I did!

Tommy Bridewell believes there are few riders who would have accepted the last-minute offer to race in the World Superbike Championship with an unfamiliar team at Ducati’s home round, but says his eye-catching performance vindicates his decision to jump on a plane and give his career an international boost.

The Briton – currently joint top of the Bennetts British Superbike Championship on the Oxford Racing Ducati after two rounds – was requested to replace Eugene Laverty on the Go Eleven Ducati Panigale V4 R after the former MotoGP rider fractured both wrists in an accident during Friday practice at Imola.

Despite Superstock experience on the continent, Bridewell had only started four WorldSBK races before the Imola weekend, with wild-card outings at Portimao in 2008 (NB Suzuki) and Silverstone in 2010 (Tyco Honda).

However, despite getting only a handful of laps on the bike – and nursing the effects of a 2am arrival – Bridewell qualified a respectable 16th and went on to score points with a 12th place finish in race one.

He’d go on to finish 11th in the shorter Superpole race, his head-turning performance measured by the way he out-paced fellow privateer Ducati riders Michel Ruben Rinaldi and Lorenzo Zanetti, each of whom had completed more than double Bridewell’s accumulation of laps all weekend.

With Bridewell expected to get another WorldSBK outing with Go Eleven at Jerez in two weeks’ time, the 30-year old says the results vindicate his decision to take the chance in tricky circumstances, a situation he believes many others would have dismissed for fear of showing themselves up.

“There aren’t many riders who would have taken a phone call late afternoon and agree to get on a plane and go to Imola, land at 2am, get three hours sleep and then race next day,” he told

“You have missed FP1 and FP2, you are absolutely knackered from the journey and everyone else is up to speed on their bikes. A lot of riders would disagree, but [I am convinced] a lot of riders wouldn’t have taken it – they would have said ‘I want to, but can we go from the next round…’

“Whereas I love a challenge… I don’t really care. I always give 110%.”

Despite the minimal preparation time and the unusual nature of his arrival, Bridewell says he was made to feel instantly welcome, not only by Go Eleven but the entire Ducati fold in attendance, including Paolo Ciabatti and Gigi Dall’Igna.

“As soon as I arrived, Paolo [Ciabatti, Sporting Director] came straight into the garage and was congratulating us, welcoming us and saying thank you… This is one of the top guys, as far as putting your name in front of the right people you can’t get better than Paolo, you can’t get better than Gigi. They all gave us congratulations for the strong start in BSB, which meant a lot to Wilf [Steve Moore, Oxford Racing team manager].”

Opting to go ‘all or nothing’ from the moment he left the pit-lane in FP3 – even revealing he went straight through the gravel at turn one on his first lap because he’d have rather dialled it back rather than build it up – Bridewell admits the complexity of the electronics on the WorldSBK-specification Ducati were at odds with what he anticipated.

“If I had more time on the bike, I would have made it a lot more aggressive and then styled it in but it felt like we were doing it the opposite way,” he continued.

“The bike wouldn’t wheelspin, it wouldn’t wheelie, it wouldn’t do anything like that but I feel we were losing a lot of time because of it. The electronics were so, so advanced. It is done by GPS, corner-by-corner, by diameter… as the race goes on the tyres get a smaller diameter, so the electronics calculates that and it knows how much more anti-spin it needs. Believe it or not, in World Superbikes you gave more parameters than you do in MotoGP, so in theory they are a higher specification than in MotoGP because you have more parameters to play around with.”

Though Bridewell contends his style and input from BSB brought a lot to the Go Eleven team, he says the benefits went both ways and by working closely alongside Ducati factory members meant both he and ‘Wilf’ took very useful information back to the UK too.

“It was good for me and good for Wilf. My crew chief in Go Eleven is the engine builder for the factory for Aruba, for PBM, everyone, so it was very good to talk to him about engines, mileages, stresses and so forth. That was one of things were wanted to bring back to the UK.

“People may comment ‘he’s crazy he is going out to do this’ and I get that but my argument with all of that is if I am not at Imola or at Jerez, I am out on my Motocross and I have as much chance of getting injured on that than I would racing a Superbike!”


Bridewell returns to the track at Donington Park this weekend for round three of British Superbikes, before potentially flying out to Jerez for round six of WorldSBK in Spain.