No-one was more surprised than Oxford Racing Ducati boss Steve Moore when his rider Tommy Bridewell discarded his 2019 Bennetts British Superbike bridesmaid outfit and stepped on to the top of the Oulton Park podium.
So far this year, Bridewell and the small, dealer-based team have led the championship but never put 25 points on the board, having to be content with 11 podiums before the big win came in the final race on Sunday.
Moore locked himself away in the team truck, conscious of the fact Bridewell had been forced our out of the lead in Saturday’s first race, when the race began but was able to steel himself to celebrate on pitwall when his team finally bagged that winner’s trophy.
“It was terrifying and then a bit numb. I never thought we were actually going to win a race, bizarre as it sounds. We’ve had many seconds and thirds. We’ve won Superbike Evo races with Scott Smart at Outlon, and Superstock races with Scott but the main championship is a big step and it seemed too far away,” said Moore, speaking to bikesportnews.com.
It made me realise how much the team has developed and grown. I was probably the only one in the team that was surprised to win. Tommy went into the lead with five laps to go, which wasn’t in the plan but he isn’t great at following plans, and then I was just waiting for something to happen, like it did in race one.
“With two laps to go, I thought it had to happen. He went across the line and it was tremendous. I was in the back of the truck on my own occasionally glancing at live timing, waiting for the crowd to make the noise they do when something has gone wrong.
“I made my way into the garage and then on the last lap I went on to the pit wall because you have to watch your rider cross the line in real life. I didn’t quite know how to react but it was really emotional. The amount of work and effort that goes into it, and it had evaded us for long.”
Bridewell looked like he could bag the team’s first-ever victory, and his first of this season, in the first race on Saturday but on lap six of 14, the bike suffered its maiden technical problem of the year in a race situation and he retired from the lead after setting some fast laptimes.
“Tommy thought he had given it everything and we couldn’t work out how we were going to beat everyone else. He said that was as good as it was going to get. But it clearly wasn’t as he was much faster in the last race.
“After the first race, we sat down and he said the bike was perfect, and to leave it alone. He just wanted to think about racecraft. The bike is never perfect and after we crunched all the numbers, Cat our chassis engineer came up with a small change to the shock.
“We made the suggestion and after Tommy had calmed down a bit, he agreed as it was what he was feeling and that helped. You have to keep working the numbers.
“The problem in the first race is still under investigation. It is an electronic problem but we don’t yet know where. We changed the everything that it could have been but there is a box of stuff here that we need to work on. I think we even change the battery. I’d rather it threw a rod out of the crankcase because at you can see what the problem was.”
After a decade of racing in the big leagues, Moore and the close-knit squad have done it. But now what?
Now it’s weird because the pressure is off a bit. We have been so obsessed with winning a race that we’re all like’ Great. Now what?’. We’ve rolled over, had a cuddle and a cigarette, now we need to work out what’s next.
“The only thing that has changed is Tommy has now got it out of his head that the race win would never come. We have been knocking on the door. We could have won race one on Saturday, we should have won at Snetterton and at Cadwell. It’s always been there, it’s not a fluky, strange result.
“We’re confident in the wet and we can win in the dry. We aren’t printing Tommy championship T-shirts quite yet but maybe I’ll have to get some for the last round…”