The Bennetts Suzuki team celebrated Barry Sheene’s maiden world title at Brands Hatch at the weekend, sporting the iconic Heron Suzuki livery of the 1970s, while Sheene’s championship-winning XR14 racers were on display.
The weekend’s British Superbike meeting also marked 40 years since the last running of the International ‘Hutch 100’ race – that was won by Sheene – and which ran anti-clockwise around the Kent circuit in the UK.
With the team’s GSX-Rs dressed in the famous livery, the Bennetts/ Halsall Racing team joined in a special parade lap that ran around the track in the reverse direction prior to the opening race.
Tommy Bridewell qualified for the opening race of the weekend on the front row of the grid, and, after battling for the podium positions, hit the front at the half-way stage. Unfortunately, after dropping back to third, he crashed at ‘Surtees’ on the final lap.
Another strong showing at the head of the pack followed in the second race, but unfortunately his race was cut-short by an issue with the front brake and he was forced to retire.
Bridewell said: “It was great to be involved in the Barry Sheene celebrations, but really disappointing to come away from the races without any points. We were strong all through practice, and then the front-row qualifying gave us a real shot in the race. I felt comfortable. I was happy leading, and even though I’d dropped to third, I was in touch on the last lap.
“Unfortunately, I pushed a bit too hard into Surtees. I was probably a little-bit wider going in and it’s folded on me. It’s a shame as that was at least a podium. In race two, I was again feeling good and up the front-end, but I had an issue with my front brake which meant I couldn’t carry on. It’s really disappointing as we were on course for two good races – a good haul of points – and could have been into the Showdown. We’re making it hard for ourselves, but we’ll keep pushing and try again at Cadwell.”
Team owner, Martin Halsall, commented: “I was really pleased to be able to do something to mark the 40th anniversary of Sheene’s first world title. Like so many, I grew-up watching him race in Grands Prix with Suzuki, so I thought it’d be really fitting and really special to do something at Brands Hatch. On the track, things didn’t go as we’d hoped: We’d been really strong with Tommy all weekend, the front row was great, and we were almost guaranteed a podium going into the last lap in race one before the crash. And the issue in race two meant we scored no points. We showed all weekend the potential we have for race wins, but we’re at the stage of the season now where we need to convert that potential into points to make the Showdown. That’s still the plan, but we need to refocus for Cadwell Park and have two good races.”
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