Norton at Goodwood Festival of Speed 2012

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A record breaking 185,000 people descended onto the grounds of Goodwood House to celebrate the annual gathering of motorsport enthusiasts.

As bikes, cars and sidecars took to the infamous hill climb amongst them was Norton SG1. This was an exciting opportunity for our Senior TT Race Bike to perform in front of a very excitable crowd!

It did not disappoint…Ian Morgan, Norton’s production manager and factory rider worked the crowd into a glorious frenzy as he performed his burnout show! Saving the best until last, the spectacular final burn out saw the burning rubber turn to canvas as the tyre exploded! Click here to see the video of Nortons Burnout Goodwood Festival of Speed 2012

TT Review 2012

The Norton Team arrived at the paddock on the Isle of Man on Friday 25th May, after many weeks preparing for the Senior TT race. SG1 was rolled out of the factory race truck for its debut race at this historic event.

With the weekend to work further on the bike and the engine teething problems the team worked tirelessly ahead of Monday evening’s practice. Unfortunately with the problem identified and fixed, SG1 missed the first practice session by just two minutes – frustrating as this lost us significant track time. However, positive mode soon kicked back in as we were ready for Tuesday’s practice!

Ian ‘Mackers’ Mackman took to the course for the first time on Tuesday and recorded a 112.364mph lap. The first round of feedback from Mackers clearly identified stability issues. The instability manifested as a weave coming from the rear of the bike but with limited time to completely correct the issue, adjustments were made to the swingarm position and a taller screen was called in. This is important to the stability to give protection against the high winds.

The team were getting more familiar with the set up as Wednesday approached and their overwhelming enthusiasm didn’t wane as weather incumbent weather reports raced through the paddock. Back out on the course a similar lap time posted to Tuesday’s session was achieved, but problems over the fast and bumpy sections raised the awareness of this gruelling race. After 75.4 miles of TT riding a better idea of how the bike was responding to the difficult terrain and more adjustments to the rear shock were made to give compliance over bumps. With a softer spring rate in place, we were hoping for a cure in the weave that Mackers was still reporting.

Tuesday 5th June arrived and a late evening practice session was squeezed into a busy schedule, with not much time out Mackers put in a 115mph, an improvement on last week. Mackers remained confident that if more time was available a higher lap time could have been logged.

Wednesday 6th June and the final day of preparation for the most prestigious race of the TT fortnight, The Senior. Mackers reported important feedback from Tuesday evening’s session; the most pressing was the response of the bike under heavy braking but also dropping into slow turns far too quickly. Some ride height adjustments were made but until SG1 rolls out for the race, there is no way of telling if the changes had been effective.

Twenty years ago, Steve Hislop won the Senior on a Norton and this added to the poignancy and true grit determination to get SG1 back out on the course.

Thursday 7th June saw the weather change with fog settling around the mountain section. The temperature started to drop and even though the bike was faster a slower lap time of 111.610 was posted, just as race organisers pulled the session due to the fog. With no time to waste and our exuberant passion to learn, the bike was stripped down and changes made that Mackers has requested.

ITV4 film from Norton tentRace Day – Friday 8th June and ever hopeful that the weather would change Race Control announce the postponement of the race until Saturday! The Team and SG1 were ready to go, so with no room for deflated characters final preparations and checks were done.

Saturday 9th June and the newly announced race day! The persistent rain Friday evening and continuing in the early hours of Saturday morning looked as though the race could yet again be postponed and at worst cancelled!

Midway through Saturday morning with hope in some very wet and heavy hearts, a shortened lightweight race gets underway and a 4 lap Senior is planned…Our hopes are high with successful laps and no breakdowns behind us and having qualified for the race, the tyre warmers were on and were ready to race the six laps…

Rain poured onto the Isle of Man, with no foreseeable let up and for the first time in 105 years the Isle of Man Senior TT Race was cancelled.

We will never know how well Mackers and SG1 would have performed on its’ maiden outing at the 2012 TT, but with 138db of noise and plenty of smoke coming from a series of huge burnouts, a ruined back tyre Norton will take the parade lap for this year!

Norton CEO Stuart Garner said, “Even though we didn’t get to race this has been a great event for Norton. We’ve learned a huge amount, the bike has been reliable and we qualified it to race. The feedback from the rider has been great and we are already getting ready for next year.”

Norton has a reliable bike in SG1, a qualification for the race and a 115mph lap. With a parade lap to boot, 2012 wasn’t a complete washout!

Isle of Man TT 2013 anyone?!!!

Mackers burns some rubber!

Norton wins Motul Team Award for Technical Excellence at 2012 TT

Norton win Motul Team Award at 2012 Isle of Man TT

Norton has won the 2012 Motul Team Award for Technical Excellence at the 2012 Isle of Man.

Event organisers ACU Events Ltd and representatives of the Race Committee, which includes the rider liaison officers Richard ‘Milky’ Quayle and John Barton, judged the award.

The appearance of Norton in the Senior TT with Ian Mackman riding SG1 will be almost 20 years to the day since Steve Hislop rode a Norton to victory in what is widely acknowledged as the greatest TT race of all time and the company’s CEO Stuart Garner is pleased to have achieved qualification this time.

A factory-backed Norton originally returned to the TT in 2009, after an absence of 17 years, but the machine didn’t finish a practice lap and so failed to qualify for the races.

Stuart said: “It is great to win this award as it really has been a team effort. Everyone who has worked on this also works at the factory and they have done a huge amount of development work in their free time.”

“We’ve also been very fortunate with our suppliers and main sponsor Santander. We are already planning for next year and our long term aim is to be podium contenders.”

He added: “The TT organisation has been hugely supportive and instrumental in getting a prototype back into the class by being flexible over homologation. I think it is hugely important to get a wide mix of machinery and the organisers deserve great credit.”

Isle of Man Government TT and Motorsport Development Manager Paul Phillips said: “This is a thoroughly deserved award and recognises the huge achievement that Norton has pulled off in building a bike in their British factory and qualifying the machine for the Senior TT. It is fantastic to have such a great name lining up on the grid and we look forward to them adding to their great TT record.”