Norton Motorcycles 2012 Isle of Man racer. Power is from an RSV V4 engine.
Norton Motorcycles has announced the factory’s intent to compete in the 2012 Isle of Man TT Senior race, and the development of their new race bike.
Racing is an essential part of the make-up and history of Norton, particularly competing in the Isle of Man TT races in which Norton won the inaugural race in 1907. The marque went on to be a dominate force in Gran Prix racing for much of the 20th century. As in the past, Norton makes street specific and race specific motorcycles. Often what is learned on the race track can be applied to street production, but when racing at the world class level, they are distinctly separate endeavours.
Given that the World Superbike and British Superbike series are limited to production road bikes, Norton has chosen to concentrate on ‘open’ or ‘formula’ championships such as MotoGP and TT racing which represent the pinnacle of racing technology and fan interest. It is not currently possible for Norton to compete financially with the three manufacturers that currently set the pace and formula in MotoGP racing, but the TT is the perfect re-entry setting for Norton.
Arguably the world’s most famous motorcycle race, the Isle of Man TT is hard edged genuine racing where fans are able to be mere inches from the racing action, as racers average over 130mph while attacking the more than 200 bends on the 37.7 mile course.
Ian Mackman, the TT’s reigning privateer champion in 2011 will pilot the new Norton. Competing in the TT since 2007, he’s firmly established himself as not only one of the most consistent riders currently competing on the Mountain Course but also one of the best. Initial testing on the Donington Gran Prix circuit found Ian all smiles and confident about the bike’s potential.
The bike itself features a Spondon chassis, Ohlins suspension and Brembo brakes. In cooperation with the Aprilia Factory in Italy, the Norton racer is powered by an RSV V4 engine. The bike is being built and tested solely within the factory at Donington Park Gran Prix Circuit. Here the incremental advancements to chassis and engine can be easily tested just outside the factory doors. Many parts and systems are developed and produced at Norton’s own inhouse CNC machine facilities, from wheel spindles to throttle bodies. Partnering in the electronics package and fuelling system is Active Technologies Limited. Visually, the factory has captured a raw new Norton racing look, capped by the signature Norton alloy tank.
Approaching the TT challenge, Norton sees it as a three year project, fully aware of the strength and experience of its determined competitors. Stuart Garner, CEO of Norton Motorcycles (UK) Ltd noted “We will be genuinely happy to come home with a solid finish this year. Any position would be a bonus. Over three years we would like to be in a position to be podium competitive, although we understand that it is a huge mountain to climb, and we have our work cut out to achieve this.” Only now is Norton re-entering racing thanks to financing by team sponsors, supplier support and licensing activities.
Norton is keen to assure all that no funds are being taken from the factory road bike business. “We have not lost focus in our road bike business, and we remain totally committed to meeting the growing demand for the Commando 961” stated Garner.
The Isle of Man TT organisers have been quite helpful to Norton and they see the factory’s entry to the race as a refreshing change for the TT. For more information about the TT race visit www.iomtt.com
For more information and news about Norton visit www.nortonmotorcycles.com/news/