RACE PLANS RAMPED UP
Norton have competed at the TT since Stuart Garner acquired the rights to the company eight years ago, but it’s been a rollercoaster.
In 2009 an old Rotary Norton was brought back to life and Michael Dunlop rode it. But it was temperamental and failed to qualify. The team came back in 2012 with an Aprilia-engined machine, but the Senior TT was cancelled due to terrible weather.
In 2013, Norton attacked the TT with two riders, Ian Mackman and Dan Hegarty, and claimed their first finishes in the Garner era. Mackman came 18th in the Superbike encounter and 24th in the Senior. Hegarty had a DNF in the Superbike race and finished 36th in the Senior.
Hopes were high in 2014 and 2015 with Cameron Donald on board and Mick Grant getting involved in the management side. But it was a torrid two years with electronics issues and Donald had just one finish – 18th in the 2015 Superbike race.
In 2016 Dave Johnson stunned the roads racing world with a 131mph lap in practice followed by a strong seventh place in the Superbike race.
Off the back of this success, Garner is planning to run a twoman Superbike team in 2017 and will also campaign at the North West and Ulster GP. He said: “Dave Johnson will remain and we are looking for a second rider, but we want someone capable of finishing on the podium – a roads racing alien.”
Garner is also planning an assault on the Lightweight class with the new 650 twin in 2018. He said: “The dream is to win a TT, of course. And we are getting closer. Right now it’s looking promising and we will keep working hard.”
‘We want someone capable of taking a podium – a roads racing alien’
Johnson will be back in 2017 after his brilliant top ten finish this year