2017 Isle of Man TT Norton Lineup
Norton has completed its lineup for 2017 Isle of Man TT, the British brand fielding a two-rider lineup. Two Australians will pilot the all-new Norton SG6: Josh Brookes and David Johnson. The bike is currently being developed and tested by two-time Isle of Man TT winner and Norton development rider Steve Plater.
Brookes spent a year racing in World Superbike, and has experience on the 37.73-mile Mountain Course. He claimed fastest newcomer in 2013, and finished a best of seventh in the 2014 Senior TT with a lap of 129.859mph during only his second year of competition at the race. But after a two-year hiatus from the TT, he returns with the factory Norton team.
“Firstly I want to come back to the TT, after SMR said I couldn't ride at the TT over the last two years I’ve been desperate to get back and race at the island. I like the history of the Norton and it will be so great to be a little part of the Norton story,” Brookes says.
“It's just something that interests me, and I’m really excited by the project. It's always hard to predict results, especially around the island so I think it's important that I let it come to me. I've not been for two years, and I don't know how much the Norton bike has improved, but I hear great things about the bike.
“My first ever race at the TT was in the Superbike and I got a top ten, so let's hope we are better than that at least, but realistically if we finish the races without a problem, and I'm in the 132mph club by the end of the fortnight then we’ll be celebrating.”
Brookes' teammate Johnson made history last year when claimed the fastest-speed ever for a British motorcycle at the TT. Johnson claimed seventh in the Superbike TT with a best lap of 130.87 mph.
“As a team we did such a great job last year, we all worked awesomely as a team and I really felt at home with Norton. Without that sort of relationship with your team it's almost impossible to get good results. I knew the 2017 bike was going to be better again after what we learnt in 2016, so I wanted to stay and make the next step with Norton,” Johnson says.
“This year I know if everything goes smoothly with no problems we can battle for the podium, I'm ready to be up there and I feel the bike will be too. But like I said, everything must be perfect as everyone is really flying these days. We had a small bike problem in the Senior TT last year which caused my concentration malfunction (laughs…)! But before that we were up dicing for a top 5 position and my ideal lap was 131.5mph, so I'm confident for good things this year.
“The end of the Senior is a strange time for every rider I think it changes with every year too as the results play a huge part. If you had a shit race like I did last year in the senior, well I was pissed off a bit...But after the Superbike race last year where we had our best results, well that was an amazing feeling! It was a tough race and everyone in the paddock was so pumped for us as a team. We definitely shut a load of the haters up and yes, I wanted a beer after that!”
About the Norton SG6
Norton says the new SG6 is a race-developed version of the Norton V4 SS road bike that was launched in November last year at Motorcycle Live to overwhelming success. All 200 of the V4 SS bikes have been sold and with features like a hand built billet aluminum frame, carbon-fiber bodywork and an all new 1200cc, V4 motor its selling power speaks for itself.
Norton CEO Stuart Garner is understandably delighted at the announcement of two first-class riders five years after the historic brand made its TT return.
“There are a couple of reasons why we wanted to sign Josh Brookes. Firstly, he gives us the opportunity of a world class short circuit rider to move along the V4 road bike development, and secondly, with his TT rider experience and his achievement of being fastest newcomer in 2013, Josh is clearly capable of a 130mph-plus lap. Given the requirements of the team at this stage of the project this makes him a perfect rider for Norton.
“To come in last year and move the development on and do all but a 131mph lap was a huge achievement and ground-breaking for the team. There’s a huge amount of respect from everyone in the Norton team for everything he has achieved and Davo has more than earned his place back on the bike in 2017.”
The SG6 will feature the V4 Aprilia CRT motor with Norton’s own V4 engine being raced in 2018. Heavily based on the TT racer geometry wise, the V4 SS road bike is almost identical to the SG6 TT bike in terms of frame stiffness, weight distribution and chassis.
“With first deliveries of V4 SS bikes not expected until the second half of 2017 it’s too early in the engine’s development to race the new Norton V4 engine given the dangers and endurance involved in competitive racing at the TT.
“We’ve further strengthened the team with the addition of former Norton Factory rider Ian Mackman joining the team as a race engineer. ‘Mackers’ rode for us in 2013 on the Norton SG1.
“They always say the Island gives you lessons so you have to curb expectations in the knowledge that the TT can deliver some very hard lessons and cruel luck. So, for 2017 we would of course like to build on our success of last year, but we don’t set ourselves any kind of hard targets other than making sure the bike and the team continue to move forwards! Then we’re happy!”