WILTSHIRE rider Tommy Bridewell claimed a top-five finish as the 2016 MCE British Superbike championship season drew to a close at the Brands Hatch triple-header at the weekend.

The Bennetts Suzuki rider, from Etchilhampton, qualified on pole position for the first of the weekend’s races, which started in dry conditions but was red-flagged early on with him battling for the race lead.

Restarted twice, eventually in wet conditions, the race ended with Bridewell taking the chequered flag in fifth position.

Sunday’s action got underway in mixed conditions and on a drying track.

After a tricky opening half of the race that saw Bridewell drop to the latter point-scoring positions, he recovered as the race went on, coming back through the pack to finish in eighth place.

The final race was again not without drama, as the first attempt to run the season finale was red-flagged.

Track contamination at Hawthorn delayed the restart, which eventually got underway as a 10-lap sprint race, but with a ‘no overtaking zone’ at the end of the back straight onto the GP section of the Brands Hatch circuit.

Bridewell made a strong start, but a mistake at Druids saw him run wide, costing him time and track position.

Even with the race running over a shortened distance, he recovered to take another eighth place.

Bridewell said: “That was an okay way to end the year. The weather's really played havoc with us this weekend because we improved the bike and were fast in the dry and fast in the wet, but I need to improve my performance when it's the in-between.

"As I got into it our lap times were up there with the fastest out there, and we could catch people, pass them, and gap them, but by coming from so far behind there was only so much I could do.

"The results this weekend haven't been what we were hoping for, but we've had a good year.

"We've had some bad luck, but through the second half of the season especially, we've been fast.

"Our biggest area of weakness this year was the initial punch out of corners. I think I've only ever really been passed in a straight line this year, because on the brakes and in the corners we've been so strong and the bike's been brilliant.

"But I've had a great year with the team, I've had a lot of fun with everyone and really enjoyed my racing.”

Team owner Martin Halsall added: "If you look at the form guide over the second half of the year, Tommy has been one of the fastest riders out there, all on the outgoing GSX-R1000.

“Now I will go away and start preparations for 2017. I have a lot to consider and a lot of work to do to make sure we have a team structure and package in place for next year to make sure we can build on our performances this year and push on to fight for the Showdown and hopefully the championship in the future.”