Brookes flies at first Norton TT test
BSB star Brookes blown away by Norton’s fast and stable new TT racer
MCE British Superbike star Josh Brookes made his debut on the factory Norton machine at Jurby airfield last week as he prepares to return to Isle of Man TT action.
Brookes and team-mate, fellow Aussie Dave Johnson tested the 2017 Norton SG6 racer at the Manx circuit over two days. The new bike is said to be a significant improvement on the Norton SG5 Johnson took to a near-131mph lap last year.
Returning to the TT for the first time since 2014 with Norton, 2015 BSB champion Brookes admits he had no idea what to expect from the madefor-the-tt prototype.
“I want to say the test went better than expected but I didn’t really know what to expect, so it wouldn’t be fair to say that!” he told MCN. “As soon as we’d got the positioning and everything right, we headed out for a few laps and instantly felt quite strong. We set about making some steady changes as I would in the early stages of a BSB meeting, oil volume in forks, then the springs and then worked with the damping a little bit. I was burning around doing lap after lap, the pace was good and consistent.”
Powered by an ex-aprilia Motogp CRT motor capable of in excess of 220bhp, the Norton has been known to be quite a handful in recent years but this isn’t something Brookes says he found a problem. In fact, the 2015 BSB champ reckons he’d like more bottom end grunt from the screaming V4.
“The bike doesn’t seem to have a lot of bottom end power. It’s really good at the top but you tend to be going in a straight line when using that sort of power so there’s nothing to tame up there!
“It lacks the initial jump off the corners I’d be used to in short circuit racing, but I’m not too bothered about that at the TT because it’s more about flow and top speed – which we’ve got!
“It’s probably one of the most stable motorbikes I’ve ridden. At top speed I was pushing the bars to try and encourage a bit of movement to see if it would get worse but it didn’t. The bike stayed perfectly straight and I could have rested my tea on the fuel tank!”
While Brookes is impressed, he remains grounded as he looks to his next test with the team and acknowledges even the bumpy Jurby airfield circuit is nothing like the iconic 37.73-mile mountain course.
“We’ve only had one test so we can’t assume it’s all great from that! We need to test somewhere else and try different things, but I’m impressed so far.”
Brookes wants more bikes
In order to get more track time as he returns to the mountain course for the first time in three years, Brookes is keen to source both Supersport and Superstock machinery to race at the TT.
The Aussie is in talks with former BSB boss Martin Halsall about racing an R6 in the Supersport category with both Brookes and Halsall telling MCN they are confident of a deal coming together in time.
He’s also trying to convince his BSB outfit, Anvil Hire Yamaha, to run their Superstock-spec R1 on the roads but that’s looking less likely with the team keen to keep their focus on BSB.
North West hopes dashed
Norton had hoped to get the SG6 racer out at this year’s North West 200 in May but MCN can reveal that’s now unlikely.
MCN understands Johnson could compete in the event with his BMW TT Superstock team, while Brookes looks set to wait until the end of May to make his roads return as practice gets underway at the TT.
‘ The TT is all about flow and top speed and we’ve got plenty of that’ JOSH BROOKES
Josh Brookes takes a break after piling on the miles at his first Norton test