Norton, the iconic maker of motorcycles and Isle of Man staple over the years, it has qualified the Norton SG1 to race in the Senior TT. The Senior TT is easily the most prestigious of the Isle of Man TT races and the news of the qualification is a huge boost for the resurgent British firm.
Back in 2009, Norton suffered a huge setback when the rotary-engined bike the company fielded failed to complete a single lap.
But this year, the news is all good. Norton’s entry has completed six laps of the 37.7 mile course, and they’ve done it without a single mechanical problem. The SG1 uses an Aprilia RSV4 engine with a Spondon frame.
Racer Ian Mackman completed a lap at an average speed of 114mph on the wild track at the Isle of Man.
“We have all worked really hard to get to this point and it’s a big lift for all of us to know we can line up and start the Senior,” said Norton CEO Stuart Garner. “We are all very proud but under no illusions about how much work we still have to do.”
The comeback attempt to the TT in 2009, take on a scant few months after Stuart Garner of Norton Racing bought rights to the brand, was a huge disappointment to the firm. With Michael Dunlop on board the NRV588, they didn’t qualify for the Senior Race. This year, British rider Mackman is set to contest in the Blue Riband Senior race on a Norton – for the first time since 1992. That race twenty years ago, and it was voted the greatest of all time in a recent fan survey, will long be remembered as Steve Hislop handed Norton a fairytale win after a back-and-forth battle with Carl Fogarty. Both riders broke the lap record in that famous race and it gave Norton their first TT win since 1961 – the company’s 43rd total victory in the world’s most famous road race.
Norton has, over the years, become synonymous with the TT. The manufacturer took the first TT win as Rem Fowler rode a twin cylinder Norton to victory back in 1907. Many legendary names have competed for the world-famous marque and they include Stanley Woods, Geoff Duke, Alec Bennett, Jimmy Guthrie and 1936 winner, Freddie Frith, Harold Daniell, Artie Bell, Reg Armstrong and Ray Amm also rode Nortons to TT race victories. The last win from Norton came (before the surprise 1992 title) in 1961 when two of the greatest riders in history – Mike Hailwood and Phil Read – won the Senior and Junior races.
The Senior TT is scheduled to start today but the weather forecast calls for rain and could result in delays. In that event, the race could be moved back as far as Saturday.