Twenty-three time Isle of Man TT race winner John McGuinness and 2015 British Superbike Champion Josh Brookes will take the the Mountain Course in 2018, teaming up to race with the Norton factory team. Both riders will contest the RST Superbike race and the PokerStars Senior TT on the Norton SG7, which is derived from the Norton V4 RR road bike.
Brookes made his TT return last year after a two-year absence and set the fastest ever lap around the course on a Norton, at 130,883mph in the Senior TT, in which he finished in a highly respectable sixth place. Later in the year he returned to the course, and took his maiden victory in the Bennetts Senior Classic TT. Speaking about his signing, Brookes said:
It was a real honour to represent Norton last year. After a couple of years away it took me a bit of time to get dialled in again and despite the weather disruption I really felt comfortable by the end of race week and I’m raring to go again and build on last year with the team and add to their history around the Isle of Man.”
McGuinness is an ever-present name in road racing and can easily be classed as a legend, as his twenty-three victories put him second in outright wins from Joey Dunlop. He last won a Superbike race in 2015, where he broke the outright lap record which still stands as the fastest around the course.
A year later he achieved podiums in the Superbike and Senior TT races, but was forced to sit out the 2017 TT due to serious injuries sustained at the Northwest 200. He admits that he wasn’t sure if he’d be able to race again after his crash, but insists he will be fit enough to ride this year and that a change of manufacturer is exactly what he needed.
“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.
“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.”