Bikes: Tommy rides in Ollies memory


International motorcycle racer Tommy Bridewell from Etchilhampton near Devizes returns to the UK for the first time this season to race his Suzuki GSXR 1000 at Castle Combe’s Superbike meeting, just over a year after the tragic death of his elder brother, Ollie, in a testing accident at Mallory Park.

This season, 18 year old Tommy has been riding in the Suzuki GSX-R 750 European Cup and the Italian Superbike Championship, but in the very first round was sideswiped by an errant machine, breaking his leg in the process. Despite still being troubled by the leg injury, Tommy racked up his first points in the Italian championship in July with an 8th place finish at Misano, his appearance at Castle Combe for the Fowlers Motorcycles Moto Star race day over the weekend of Saturday and Sunday August 16 and 17 being his first race on British soil this season.

With Ollie notching up some great results at Castle Combe in the past, the family’s supporters are hoping Tommy can emulate him in this, the 5th running of the Castle Combe Superbike Grand National race. A local victory is indeed possible with the likes of defending CCGN Champion, Victor Cox, from Trowbridge on his R1, Marlborough’s Nick Pusey, Castle Combe Racing School bike instructor, Simon Knowlson from Dursley on the ex Jentin Racing R1 and Bath’s Alistair Fagan on a Fireblade.

Bridewell will also be taking part in the two Pro-Bike Open races for 750 to 1300cc machines, joined by Bristolians Chris Richardson on a Suzuki and Aaron Ridewood on a Ducati. Cardiff’s James Parry has a 675 Triumph.

Darrell Higgins from Melksham could be a strong contender for the NG Cup races for 250 GP bikes on Dennis Trollope’s Yamaha 250, having won many races at the Wiltshire track.  Wroughton’s Duncan Fitchett and Chippenham’s Paul McCullagh have Yamahas, Cheltenham’s John Lewis a Honda. Fitchett will also be out in the Lansdowne Classic Cup on a 500 Norton.

The 125 Grand Prix races have Bath’s Ross Ashman, Chippenham’s Freddie Nickless and Bristol’s Matt Hillier on Honda 125s, machines in direct contrast to those in the ‘Sound of Thunder’ races for big hunky twins, triples and 750 classics. The two seven lap races have local riders including Radstock’s Rob Jones on his 748 Ducati, Clevedon’s Shaun Wynne, Banwell’s Paul Smyth (also out in the Formula 600 race) and Trowbridge’s Darren Crisp all on Triumph 675s and Clevedon’s Patrick Winstone on a Ducati 996.

The Bridgestone Pro-Bike Open championship race for 250cc Grand Prix machines has Bath’s Sean Ridley and Bristol’s Chris Richardson on Suzuki 1000s, Chippenham’s Jonathan Bartram on a Honda 1000 and Berkeley’s Chris Turl on a Yamaha 1000.

The Formula 600 race sees Swindon riders, Ricky Elder and Danny Frankham up against Bristol’s Ryan Peters and Shane Morgan, with Cardiff’s James Parry also in the mix.

Cheltenham’s Chris Hawkes has his Suzuki 600 in the ACU Suzuki GSX-R Trophy race on Sunday.

Sidecars are always popular at Castle Combe and with points in the ACU Yokohama British F2 Championship up for grabs the 12 lap race is likely to provide plenty of thrills. Completing the weekend’s competition programme are two races for the Bridgestone Open Challenge and one for the Honda Hornets and Formula 400.

As well as the racing, there is plenty of other activity over the weekend. One of the UK’s most successful motorcycle racers, ‘Rocket’ Ron Haslam, makes a rare guest appearance on board Andy Caddick's ex Honda UK and Wayne Gardner three cylinder RS500 machine. As well as demonstrating the bike in Sunday’s special parade, Ron will be signing copies of his new book ‘Rocket Man’ in the Strawford Centre.

The former Grand Prix rider only made one appearance at Castle Combe, on a Ducati, and will be riding in the parade along with his son Leon, a British Superbike star who will be demonstrating the HM Plant Honda Superbike. Leon was at last year’s meeting as a spectator, but this will be his first lap of Castle Combe since winning the Carnell Gilera National Scooter Championship race there back in 1997.

The event gets under way on both days with practice from 08-45 am, with the first race on Saturday at 2.00pm. Sunday’s first race is at 09.20.

Admission prices are £20 for an adult weekend ticket, £10 for OAPs. Saturday tickets are £8 and £15 on Sunday. OAPs, £4 on Saturday and £7.50 on Sunday.  Paddock transfer is free on Saturday and £2.50 on Sunday. Accompanied children under 15 free on both days.

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