WILTSHIRE rider Tommy Bridewell will return to Bennetts British Superbike Championship action at Brans Hatch this weekend after securing a deal with the Moto Rapido Ducati team.

The last-minute agreement means Bridewell, who has also recently been in Japan testing for the Suzuka Eight-Hour race at the end of the month, will team up with the Winchester-based dealer team for the first time tomorrow for opening free practice at the Kent circuit.

Etchilhampton's Bridewell, who steps in after Moto Rapido parted company with Taylor Mackenzie, will ride a Ducati for the first time in his career and said: "I am happy to be back racing this weekend, especially at Brands Hatch.

"Ducati is the only manufacturer I haven’t raced with so this will be a completely new venture and experience for me.

"Yes we are starting straight off with free practice but it doesn’t worry me at all.

"I am feeling optimistic and hopefully I can click straight away with the Ducati and can be competitive from the outset.

“From the research I have done, the Ducati seems to have similar characteristics to the Yamaha I used to race and that still is one of the best bikes I have ever raced in BSB, so I am hoping that we can just get stuck in with free practice and build from there. It’s going to be an interesting weekend for us that’s for sure.”

Bridewell was axed from the Movuno.com Halsall Racing squad at Snetterton last month after what the team cited as differences and missed the subsequent Knockhill round

Moto Rapido team owner Steve Moore said: “It’s been a busy 10 days since Knockhill but we met with Tommy and worked out a deal. It was the obvious choice for good reason; riders like Tommy don’t get left on the shelf for long so I’m happy to have secured him.

“Now we have a massive challenge ahead at Brands Hatch this weekend. As no testing is possible, the sensible and maybe smart thing to do would be to miss this round and start a proper test program - even just a few days testing to sort the basics. "But instead we have decided to go racing against established riders and teams with thousands of miles under their belts and well set up bikes, but where better to test than at a live race weekend?

“Tommy has never ridden a Ducati or twin cylinder Superbike so we have a busy few first sessions. I can’t wait to see what happens.”