Iconic British manufacturer Norton has confirmed that it will be returning to the Isle of Man TT races in 2012. The legendary name will once more grace the Mountain Circuit with an all-new 1000cc V4 machine with reigning TT Privateer’s Champion Ian Mackman on board for the PokerStars Senior TT on Friday 8th June.
The bike features a Spondon chassis with Ohlins front and back, Brembo brakes and an RSV V4 engine. It has been built solely within the factory at Donington Park, with many of the parts – from wheel spindles through to throttle bodies – built within the CNC machine facility in the Norton factory. The company has also partnered with Active Technologies Limited for the fuelling system and electronic package. All the styling and bodywork has also been completed at the factory and the team will operate with their traditional polished aluminium tank.
The Midlands-based outfit originally made a low-key comeback to the TT in 2009, just months after Stuart Garner of Norton Racing acquired the rights to the brand. Although the team secured Michael Dunlop to ride their NRV588 they didn’t qualify for the Senior Race. However, it’s widely anticipated that the new V4 bike will be more suitable to the rigours of the Mountain Course and give the team a great chance of having a British rider contest the Blue Riband Senior race on a Norton for the first time since 1992.
That race, twenty years ago, voted the greatest of all time in a recent fan survey, will be remembered for Steve Hislop giving Norton a fairytale win after a titanic battle with Carl Fogarty with the outright lap record being broken by both riders. It gave Norton their first TT win since 1961 and their 43rd in total.
The manufacturer is synonymous with the TT and is immortalised in the record books for the first TT win when Rem Fowler rode a twin cylinder Norton to victory in the first race back in 1907. Since then many legendary names have competed for the world-famous marque including Stanley Woods, Geoff Duke, Alec Bennett, Jimmy Guthrie, Freddie Frith, Harold Daniell, Artie Bell, Reg Armstrong and Ray Amm who all took Norton to TT race victories. Apart from Hislop’s win in 1992, Norton’s previous wins came in 1961 when two of Britain’s greatest ever riders – Mike Hailwood and Phil Read – won the Senior and Junior races respectively.
Ian Mackman commented:
“It is a huge honour to be riding a Norton at the Isle of Man TT Races, following such iconic names in competing on the Mountain Course. It will be an incredible experience and I’m confident that we can do justice to this legendary company.”
Stuart Garner has conceded that victory is unlikely in the first year but believes that the team has put in some good preparation and will arrive on the Isle of Man with a competitive machine:
“After our experience in 2009 I vowed that we would only return to the Isle of Man when we were ready. This is a long-term project and I am confident that we can have a strong first year and add to Norton’s history around the Mountain Course as well as building a strong team to take the brand back to its rightful place at the front of the field. Everyone in the factory is committed to achieving a competitive bike.”
“The TT stood out as the very obvious choice for Norton. The hard edge style of racing, which gets much closer to fans and supporters in a true and real world way, is a very genuine and a passionate way to go racing and appeals to Norton far more than the energy drink and lycra clad world of homologated road bike racing. The Norton team is looking forward to getting to the Isle of Man and providing some excitement and fun for the TT crowd.”
Paul Phillips, TT and Motorsport Development Manager, Isle of Man Government, commented:
“It’s fitting that Norton are returning on the twentieth anniversary of what is widely recognised as the greatest TT Race. The Norton name resonates around the world and we are delighted to have them back on the grid. I’m sure that their experience of competing in 2009 will stand them in good stead but realistically this is their first competitive return since 1992.”