John McGuinness, the 23-time TT Race winner, has signed to ride for the Norton factory team at this years Isle of Man TT Races.
The Morecombe Missile will compete in both the Senior and Superbike TT races on the 37.73-mile Mountain Course at the beginning of June.
Despite suffering almost career ending injuries at the 2017 North West 200, the 45-year-old expects to be back to full fitness in time for his TT debut with Norton.
“I didn’t want to end my career due to an injury, but the truth is I didn’t know whether I would be able to come back as I didn’t know how fit I was going to be. Right now, things are going well. I feel a lot sharper and my head is in gear and ready to go. The plan is to get the external fixator cage off my leg by the end of this month and after that we can start working towards getting bike fit and testing.”
In less then four months McGuinness and his new teammate Josh Brookes will be setting off down Bray Hill on two of the latest specification Norton ‘SG7’ machines, derived from the firms flagship V4 RR road bike.
“I’m definitely ready for a change of manufacturer. I needed an injection of enthusiasm and I’ve found it with Norton. From the first time I met with Stuart (Garner) the vibe was there and the passion. I watched Steve Hislop win the TT on the Norton in 1992 and it was massive. Everyone remembers that! We can’t get carried away, it’s going to be a big job but I’ve watched a lot of YouTube videos of the bike in action, I watched the bike out on track last year and it’s clearly a very fast and capable bike and I can tell you there are worse handling bikes out there too, so there’s no reason we can’t do the business if the stars line up right.”
Speaking of McGuiness’s appointment, Stuart Garner, Norton Motorcycles CEO, said.
“We’ve been talking to John for a year or more, he’s the talent. He’s the man at the TT with the total experience, the results and the pedigree. We have the ambition to win the TT and to go on to develop a really strong team in years to come. We’d got John in our sights for a long time.”
“To get John in the Norton team with his experience and knowledge available is fabulous. Norton will seize the opportunity to get John involved in all aspects of the bike – he’s a huge asset to Norton. Everyone in the factory has got a huge buzz. It’s pretty special. We’re all looking forward to the TT but we’ve not set any targets and take nothing for granted. Putting John McGuiness and Norton together is a dream team, but we know all results at the TT are hard earned whatever your name.”
Can McGuiness add to his record of 46 podium finishes? Find out when the Isle of Man TT gets underway on the 26th May.