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Three-time British Superbike champion Niall Mackenzie spoke to Tommy Bridewell at Motorcycle Live on the Ducati UK stand earlier this week. Tommy recently resigned with Moto Rapido as they aim for victory in the 2019 BSB Championship as the Oxford Racing Ducati Team with the new Panigale V4 R.

Niall Mackenzie: I’m pleased to say in my opinion you’ve had the best season ever, probably the most satisfying season ever and finished it on an absolute high. So, tell us a little bit about 2018.

Tommy Bridewell: The start of the season was a difficult one. And when the opportunity came to join Wilf and the Moto Rapido Ducati Team it just made sense and worked out for everyone really. It was a nice transition. As soon as I jumped on the Ducati I felt really comfortable. I kept my head down and bounced back really, to how I know I should and can be really. And now I’m just excited for next year. 2018 was great. We had 4 podiums in the last 7 races. But as soon as Ducati launched this new V4, I think most riders would look at this bike and just want to race it.

Niall Mackenzie: End of an era in many ways and great timing for you. This must be the ultimate teaser. As an ex-rider, if someone just showed me this bike now, I don’t know when you’re going to get on it, but everyone’s just been drooling over it since we’ve first seen pictures and now we see it in the flesh it really is amazing. When is your first outing? When are you hoping to get your leg over?

Tommy Bridewell: So, it doesn’t look as though we’ll get the race bike until maybe the end of January. And it looks like we’ll just do the Spanish test now in mid-March. Which isn’t a bad thing. It gives the team plenty of time to get their head around the bike. No doubt we’re all itching to take it apart and rebuild it and just keep doing that.

Looking at the bike I’d obviously want to be on it now. It’s a credit to the way Ducati work. They do it right and they are very methodical in the way they do it. You can see that through their whole development, through MotoGP, World Superbikes and BSB. I think it’s a really exciting time for Ducati. Obviously, you’ve got Scott and Josh with the PBM Ducati Team and I’m with Moto Rapido in the Oxford Racing Ducati Team, so I think Ducati in British Superbikes has a really, really strong line up so it’s just really exciting.

Absolutely eager to get on the bike. But we’ve got a lot of work to do to get it converted to MoTeC electronics. The team’s got to get their heads around the chassis, the way it’s going to handle. We’re always just trying to get that little bit ahead of the game, ready to come out at Round 1 is what we’re focusing on. We’ll go testing next year and go from there.

Niall Mackenzie: It’s a massive job, I don’t think everyone realises. Bodywork, chassis parts, BSB rules without any electronics. With these new superbikes you have to rip all the electronics out and start again to control 220, 230hp with the rider. One thing I want to ask, are we having wings in BSB next year?

Tommy Bridewell: I think so, yes. It has been homologated so it’s in the rules. If it’s been homologated so you can run it. It’s not a detachable part, it’s part of the structure. It’s amazing that it’s got wings. Because it’s like MotoGP, It’s like going down the motorway and seeing a Formula 1 car or something, you’d be blown away. The whole package is amazing. The engine, I’ve been speaking to Wilf in the team and the information they’ve got, it just kind of keeps getting better and better. Ducati have certainly pulled out all the strings with this bike. I honestly believe, dare I say, I think it will make World Superbikes more interesting and it’s going to be a very exciting project for me in BSB in 2019.

Niall Mackenzie: The wings are primarily designed to keep the front end of the bike down, keep it on the floor. What about the Mountain at Cadwell Park, what are the wings going to do there?

Tommy Bridewell: Might have to give it an extra blip, I don’t want to be going landing down on the front! We’ve got a lot of learning. The bike revs up to 16,500 compared to Panigale R which was 12,500. There are so many characteristics of the bike that are going to be different and we’ve just got to learn. But it’s an exciting project so we need to be involved with it.

Niall Mackenzie: Everyone was chuffed to bits to see you back where you belong at the end of this year and we can’t wait to see you on the Ducati next year.

Tommy Bridewell: Thank you.