WORDS BY ADAM DICKINSON | IMAGES COURTESY OF ED & CHRIS BRIDLE
Speaking to Ed and Chris Bridle, they could be any set of twins. Like Fred and George Weasley have broken free of their scripts (and dyed their hair), the pair are almost freakishly in sync, at times seeming even ahead of the other’s thought processes - ‘we’re well-rehearsed’, Ed says.
But having their own inbuilt version of team radio might come in useful in June 2023 because they’re not just any set of twins. Ed and Chris Bridle want to be the first twins to race together at the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Some quick and very generalised back-of-the-napkin maths shows that 800,000 twin pairs born each year divided by 62 Le Mans entrants gives a 0.00775% chance of them making it.
But they don’t race on dinner tables, and the pair already look well on their way to the Circuit de la Sarthe, despite all the hurdles thrown up by the last few years.
Indeed, endurance racing seems almost made for the pair with a unique perk that only applies to the Bridles, a perk they discovered when making the first move from karts to cars in 2017 via the Fun Cup Endurance Championship.
“The only reason we went down the Fun Cup route was because it was endurance, we were sharing the car,” Ed says.
“Obviously if we did sprint racing we need to have two cars because there's two of us, whereas the endurance, we were sharing the car, and that price for us made it a lot cheaper because you weren't paying for two cars.”
After being introduced to karting at a friend’s Buckmore Park birthday party aged nine, both twins competed regularly in the south-east but were limited in their next steps by the insane finances of entry-level car racing.
“Everyone eight, nine years old says they want to be an F1 driver,” Chris says. “But as soon as you get in the industry you realise actually that it's not really that achievable unless you've got millions of pounds or you’re mega talented.”
Ed continues the story: “Basically by chance Chris saw an article from a karting magazine, it was a way for us to get into racing cars at a fairly affordable cost.”
A curious championship, the Fun Cup promises four-to-eight hour races in race car chassis underneath a VW Beetle silhouette, and drivers must run around their cars in scheduled transition periods if they’re not changing driver.
But that doesn’t make it a novelty, the cars are proper racers with rear-wheel drive, paddle-shift gearboxes and no ABS or traction control, whilst the Bridles were up against experienced drivers like LMGTE world champion Stuart Hall and McLaren’s Marcus Clutton.
It’s so competitive that the championship offers a £10,000 cash prize to any team who wins their first Fun Cup race outright, and it’s not been claimed yet. So if you’re reading this and can find two mates who are nifty behind the wheel, the offer’s still there. Just saying.
Crucially it provided the twins with plenty of track time and chance to learn the UK national circuits, so after three seasons they were able to step up to Praga.
Originally slated to race in the Benelux Supercar Challenge, that didn’t happen as planned in 2020 - because did anything happen as planned in 2020?
But in what could’ve been a wasted season, a partnership with Praga gave them both an opportunity an opportunity in the Britcar championship for 2021, and a chance to garner some extensive preparation in the Praga R1 first.
“Even though we had a year off we were still very heavily involved in the car,” Chris remembers.
“We ended up doing quite a lot of development testing on the car, we would then do some stuff behind the scenes trying to improve the car which later led to the new gen bodywork being updated for all the cars in Praga.”
Still, to go from karts to 170mph endurance sports cars in just one stepping stone is mightily impressive, although as Ed says, their shared wavelength has helped with that too.”
“When you watch the onboard you couldn't really tell who was in the car at what time.
“It's actually quite nice because we tell each other what we think, when you're racing with someone you might not know really well you're trying to come across as easy as possible we don't get offended by each other.
“I'd say Chris is a bit more methodical, I'll tend to go out first and go quite quick straight away, Chris generally builds it up a bit more and by the end of the day is going as quick or quicker than me.
This season’s Praga Cup campaign has been a tale of what might’ve been, after a host of reliability errors including a ‘freak’ battery failure, the pair got their season back on track last weekend at Donington in the penultimate round, to bring them up to fourth in the championship.
As for the Le Mans dream, there’s a plan for that too. While they’re at pains to stress they’d be happy to stay in the Praga, ideally they’ll step onto the proper Le Mans ladder.
“The dream next step would be LMP3,” Chris says.
“What we're racing at the moment, the speed's as quick as LMP3, for someone in our position the next step is the Michelin Le Mans Cup or the ELMS series, then once you're there you are almost knocking on the door of Le Mans if you're in the right place, you're in the right paddock with the right people and the right teams.”
As always, that just comes back to budget - Chris says it’s £120,000 for two seats of a year of Praga, versus around £250,000 per driver for LMP3.
“In the current climate asking businesses to have some money to, as they see it go and have fun, it's quite a challenging thing and no matter what you do and who you can get in contact with it is really tricky,” Ed adds.
But they say their potentially record-breaking niche does help as a conversation-starter. Like so many other things in their racing career, even their Le Mans ambition came by chance discussion on the lack of other racing twins and plough through the record books to confirm their hunch.
So with everything else covered, there’s just one more question left - who’s fastest?
“Me”, they both say. Simultaneously, of course.