Plater on Norton's TT chances: "A top ten is realistic"

Author: Bike Social Posted: 12 May 2014

Plater testing earlier this year at Cadwell Park. Sadly we couldn't get hold of a picture of the new bike, yet!
Former TT winner Steve Plater says the new Norton SG3 has what it takes to finish in the Top Ten with Cameron Donald on board, though unofficially, many within the factory are already whispering that a podium finish could be in sight.

The V4-powered Norton SG3 has a new motor putting out 195bhp at the rear wheel, a comprehensive test programme behind it, new aerodynamic bodywork (old bike pictured here) and a fierce new rider in two- times TT winner Cameron Donald who takes the seat.

As well as Plater signed-up as test rider and Donald as rider, the new team now also includes former GP rider and experienced team manager Mick Grant in charge of the TT effort.

Two-Times TT Winner, Steve Plater, has been employed as Norton’s test rider for the SG-3 this year and has ridden the bike at Cadwell Park and Bruntingthorpe’s high-speed testing circuit.

He says it’s a fantastic handling bike, and with a bit of luck reckons the young Norton team should be able to get a top ten with TT ace Cameron Donald on board. That’s some claim from a man who has previously won two TT’s.

Speaking exclusively to Bike Social, Plater said: “It’s a very good package. They raced it last year with pretty much a standard engine but this time around they’ve upped their game with everything. Mick Grant is now involved looking after the TT effort and development with me as a test rider. We had a blast out at Bruntingthorpe to see what was going on and then had two day’s testing at Cadwell to assess the chassis and then from there we’ve done some stability testing and some work on the electronics. It’s looking good.”

But handling is one thing, and the firm is now working closely with Cosworth to get more horsepower out of the V4 motor. Last year the Norton finished 18th in the hands of Ian Mackman, but the bike was well down on horsepower, making only 156bhp, compared to many of the bikes it was competing against in the Senior and Superbike TT, putting out 200+bhp.

With some in-house development and by working closely with Cosworth, the team are confident that they now have 195bhp at the rear wheel.

Plater said: “There’s now a few more horsepower for the engine, it’s now got 195bhp at the back wheel! It’s a V4 so it is nimble and handles well, the chassis is good and there’s no stability issues so in theory it should make a good TT bike for Cameron Donald.”

Although riders like McGuinness are talking about a 132mph TT lap being possible this year, outright horsepower is not necessarily what wins a TT though. Many rider opting for a half-way house of a bike that sits somewhere between a full-blown superbike and a Superstock bike rather than chasing every last bhp.

Plater said: “The Isle of Man TT is all about speed and momentum, it’s not about getting out of the corner as hard as you can in second and third gear as it is on short circuits. All the testing we’ve done on short circuits is nothing like what the bike will be going through. The TT is the biggest test in the world for man and machine.

"So that means the crank is spinning really hard and you have a massive giro effect that can make it quite hard to get an in-line four cylinder from side to side at high speed with the throttle wide open in sixth gear.

“But that’s not the case with a V4, as that’s obviously a different configuration and it’s actually much easier in those avenues so hopefully that will be something that helps the bike tremendously. I’m not saying the Aprilia-engine is going to be the fastest thing out there but let’s face it they are very fast in World Superbikes, there’s nothing wrong with the speed.”

Ultimately Plater has high-hopes for the team this year, and is confident the bike is in shape ready for Cameron Donald and the torturous Isle of Man TT circuit.

Plater said: “It’s quite late in the day but I’m quite happy for Cameron to go out and push quite hard with the chassis, we’re on Dunlop tyres which has been finalised this week. That’s brilliant as Dunlop provide a great package, it’s the only package I’ve ever won races on and their results show their strength really so it’s one less thing to worry about. As far as the handling is concerned, it’s not going to be an issue it’s going to be more about the electronics and making sure everything is running sweet. The team have got less experience than everybody else out there although they’ve got last year to build on. All the ingredients are there, it’s just about everything coming together, having a bit of luck which is needed in any competitive event, especially the Isle of Man TT. Realistically a top ten would be a fantastic result for the first year.”