Author: Oli Rushby Posted: 28 May 2015
Norton has been working non-stop at the Donington factory to prepare and improve their TT racer for the 2015 Isle of Man TT.
Working dawn ‘til dusk, Norton has developed what is essentially an entirely new package called SG4. After flying in rider Cameron Donald almost two months before the TT for an extensive testing programme they certainly mean business.
After failing to finish a race at the Isle of Man last year, the team are confident of turning their fortunes around.
“Two DNFs were never in the plan last year”, said Norton’s CEO, Stuart Garner speaking to Bike Social. “We had electronic problems leading to fuel pump starvation in the superbike race and then the tyre spun on the rim in the senior. The superbike race was our fault, we’ll take that on the chin but spinning the rear up in the senior was a one in a million situation! Cam thought it was a large mechanical failure and because we didn’t know what the problem was we didn’t feel safe sending him back out onto Bray Hill. Little did we know, if we’d done the pitstop it would have been fine as we’d have given him a new wheel and tyre. That’s one lesson we took away, always mark your tyre to the rim!
“Still, it’s the fastest a Norton has ever been around the TT, only 126mph but it’s still the fastest a Norton has ever been so hopefully we can build on that this year and everything will go in the right direction. No doubt the progress won’t be fast enough for some people, including myself. We want to win, that’s what we’re here for, but we haven’t put a time on it. We will continue to push and work towards it, we aren’t there just to take part. We want to be at the top.”
Keen to improve on 2014, Garner’s team have worked relentlessly over the last 12 months to produce an entirely new bike.
“In the off-season we have moved the bike on even more, we’ve got a new chassis, new swingarm and new engines. I wouldn’t say everything but a lot of the major components are all new. Because of that, we got Cam in early for testing. There’s not a track in the UK we haven’t been to! We’re on it, there’s loads of work being covered, lots to do but we understand the motorbike a lot more now than we did at this time last year.
“I think the biggest changes we’ve made for this year are the new engines and the new swingarm. We’ve worked with Aprilia, we’ve worked with Paul Bird Motorsport on how those lads have been able to make that bike work at MotoGP level and what they’ve done to that bike in terms of engine mods, airbox, air intakes etc. We’ve learned a heck of a lot from them. We’ve also been working on getting flexibility throughout the bike from front to back. Last year we had a very stiff chassis. This year the motorcycle has much more flex right across its platform. You find issues at 125mph lap pace and solve those but then a whole load of other issues come up at 128mph so you have to work on those. We’re currently working through that. Other teams have been here a long time so we’re playing catch up.”
Norton’s new engines are something special, they are a derivative of what was found in Paul Bird Motorsport’s MotoGP bikes last year.
“In essence the internals of our new engines are CRT, combined with some of the things we’ve already learned to make our bike quick, plus our software calibration and engine management. It’s great to be able to add that extra knowledge along with what we’d already learned. By working with PBM and Aprilia we have got more answers and moved the stuff on that little bit more. We’ve got big improvements coming out of the engine, just by asking and sharing knowledge.”