Brookes & Johnson pleased with heavily revised British beast
‘This bike is ready to race” – those were the words of Josh Brookes the moment he stepped off Norton’s V4-RR SG6 TT after completing his final test before heading to the Isle of Man TT. Such words coming from a rider of Brookes’ calibre, the 2015 MCE British Superbike champion, is huge kudos for the British manufacturer. When Norton boss Stuart Garner said he was going to take the marque back to the TT with an Aprilia-powered machine, people laughed, but now, six incarnations of the V4 racer later, the bike will set off the Superbike and Senior TT from the number one spot with Dave Johnson onboard.
And while it could be argued sending the booming V4 down Bray Hill first is a PR stunt, Johnson earned Norton’s elevation through the ranks after taking the factory outfit into the 130mph club last year with a 130.872mph best. He could have gone faster too, had he not crashed out of the Senior TT and with that in mind both Johnson and Brookes, Norton’s Aussie dream team, are tipped to trouble the top five this year.
“The bike is another level on from where it was last year,” explains team boss Johnny Cusack. “We’ve redesigned the chassis from what we learned with the SG5 and from Davo [Johnson] and it’s now all linked to our V4-SS and V4-RR road bikes.
“We’ve revised the geometry, we’ve got a whole new outrigger section made in billet. The rear subframe and front subframe are now the same as on the road bike. We’ve shaved loads of weight off the bike too – last year we had big clunky yokes that weighed 3.5kg and the new ones are down to about 600g!”
While Norton do now have their own V4 motor, as seen in the road bike, the team have opted to stick with the ex-motogp CRT Aprilia V4s they’ve run for the last few years rather than taking a motor that has done very few testing miles to the world’s toughest course.
“We’re still running the Aprilia engine this year purely for the fact it’s a known quantity,” Cusack continues. “It’s giving us the power we want and everything else we’ve asked for so we’ll use it again for this year and then go from there with our own motor. You’ll also see the road bike has a single-sided swingarm, whereas we’ve stuck with the double-sided arm we had last year and again this is because it’s a known quantity.”
A key factor that helped Norton make their significant step forward last year was the introduction of a Magnetti Marelli electronics package, which remains the same for 2017.
Cusack added: “We made a big step with electronics last year. Testing has gone well, we’ve had no issues where we’re changing swingarms or cutting frames in half like in the past, those days are long gone and now we’re just focusing on refining the package.”