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Glenn Irwin pays tribute to rival as Tommy Bridewell claims British Superbike title by half a point.

Glenn Irwin choked back the tears after the Northern Ireland rider was denied the British Superbike title by half-a-point despite winning both races yesterday at Brands Hatch.

His BeerMonster Ducati team-mate Tommy Bridewell twice finished as the runner-up to clinch the championship at the Showdown finale. Irwin, fourth in Saturday’s Sprint race after starting from 17th place when he was hampered in a wet qualifying session due to an issue with the front of his BeerMonster Ducati, came out fighting at the Kent track.

He trailed Bridewell by only 10.5 points going into yesterday’s opening race, but Irwin’s destiny was out of his control going into the final race, when Bridewell could still lift the title by finishing second. In a breathless race, OMG Yamaha’s Kyle Ryde battled with Irwin and Bridewell for the win as the outcome went down to the wire.

Irwin led onto the 20th and last lap, but Bridewell made a decisive pass on Ryde to snatch the runner-up spot as he came out on top of a season-long duel with the dejected Carrickfergus man, who also finished as the championship runner-up in 2022.

A tearful Irwin paid tribute to Bridewell, with the duo back on friendly terms after they clashed at the penultimate round at Donington Park.

Bridewell was equally fulsome in his praise of Irwin as he dedicated his maiden BSB title to his late brother Ollie, who died in a crash at Mallory Park in 2007, and PBM team owner Paul Bird, who passed away in September after illness.

“I’ve a lump in my throat and firstly, I want to say thank you to Glenn – he brought the worst and the best out of me this year,” said Bridewell. “I absolutely think he is an unbelievable rider. As always, this is for my brother; I dedicate everything I do in my life for my brother.Thank you to BeerMonster PBM Ducati and I also want to dedicate this to our beloved boss who we lost this year, Paul.”

Ryde finished third in the championship, 33 points behind Bridewell.

Andrew Irwin was outside the points in 16th yesterday on the Honda Racing Fireblade, while Jack Kennedy was a retirement in his final race on the Mar-Train Yamaha. In the National Superstock 1000 class, England’s Dan Linfoot sealed the title with victory in the final race from Donegal’s Richard Kerr, who claimed the runner-up spot in the championship. Alastair Seeley was fourth as he wrapped up third in the standings.

Scott Swann, who earned his best result with fifth on Saturday, finished 12th yesterday. Dromara’s Sam Laffins finished the season in style with a National Junior Superstock double, securing sixth in the championship. Cameron Dawson from Dungannon, second in the first race on Saturday, was seventh as he ended the season second overall.

Eugene McManus finished third in the final Supersport race of the season with Eunan McGlinchey sixth. Donegal rider Rhys Irwin, fourth in the championship, crashed out. In the MotoGP World Championship, Francesco Bagnaia won in Indonesia yesterday to reclaim the title lead by 18 points from Jorge Martin, who slid out while leading.

“The maths was simple, I had to win and have him a couple [of places] behind, The most important thing is I tried everything and there was no more tricks left in the book. I gave it everything and that’s all I can ask for. We had four DNFs; Knockhill [crash] was my fault. At the end of the day, Tommy’s name is on the championship, Tommy deserves it. He was the hardest team-mate I ever had in terms of the rivalry. Total respect for him because he put together a great year.”