HAVING had his spirits significantly lifted by his latest link-up with team owner Martin Halsall, British Superbike Championship star Tommy Bridewell has warned his rivals: “A happy rider is a fast rider”.

A hugely frustrating 2017 campaign saw Bridewell, from Etchilhampton, operating mostly outside the top 10 but he will be supported by some familiar faces when the new season gets under way at Donington Park on March 31.

Announced last month, Bridewell’s switch to the Movuno.com Halsall Racing squad is one he believes will see him battling it out for podium positions once more.

The team has been created with the 29-year-old at its centre and will also see him reunited with a trio of Italian mechanics who have played a key role in some of the best moments of his career to date.

Bridewell, who also worked with Bolton entrepreneur Halsall in 2013 and 2016, told the Gazette and Herald: “We’ve been good friends all along. In 2017 he decided to step out of it and do the Supersport class but when I knew he was coming back to Superbikes he was my first port of call.

“2017 was a very, very difficult year so to do a deal and get back with Martin was crucial for me.

“I had a few options but what Martin was offering was everything I could have asked for.

“I’ve worked under a lot of owners and none of them compare. With the work ethic of the three Italians – whose experience and expertise is phenomenal – and the help and support I get from Martin, it was a no-brainer for me.

“It will give me a happy environment in the garage too and that’s very important. With Martin there as well there is feeling of mates going racing – and a happy rider is a fast rider, after all.”

Bridewell said his new team is busily preparing the latest edition of the Suzuki GSX-R he will ride ahead of pre-season testing in Cartagena, Spain, this month. He finished on the podium twice for Halsall using an outdated version of the bike two years ago.

After finishing 17th in the standings – matching his worst championship performance – on a Kawasaki in the colours of Team WD-40 last time around, he is hoping to pose problems for the main title contenders once more this season.

“I’m just going to keep my head down,” said Bridewell when asked might be would be a realistic ambition for 2018.

“I had such a difficult year last year and it was a sinking ship from the outset. I know what I’m capable of and the team is capable of.

“There is no reason why we won’t be competitive but we’ll keep quiet and do our talking on the track.”

Also on Bridewell’s agenda for the coming months could be a road racing debut after he mooted the possibility of contesting May’s International North West 200.

He added: “There are a lot of things I’d like to do. I’m keen to do World Endurance races and the North West, as well as MotoAmerica, but there is still a question mark over that.

“For now, the focus is on British Superbikes and the team are working flat out.”