We’ve been hearing rumours since Dec last year of John McGuinness would be leaving Honda for the 2018 Isle of Man TT races. This was still a blur until now, as Norton has officially said that it has signed John for the this year’s campaign.
John has had a remarkable career in the Isle of Man TT. He made himself familiar with the motorsport way back in 1996 and finished the 250cc TT race as the fastest newcomer. His favourite course being the Mountain Course. He has been racing the Honda CBR1000RR SP2 but unfortunately, the bike didn’t seem to be improving with time and he wasn’t satisfied with the performance.
For the 2018 Isle of Man TT campaign, he’d be riding the latest specification Norton ‘SG7’ machines, derived from the firm’s flagship V4 RR road bike. He’d be representing Norton in the RST Superbike and PokerStars Senior TT Races.
Speaking about his new signup with Norton, John said, “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.”
He further added, “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.”
John has 23 TT race wins to his name. It was in 2015 when he won his last race in the PokerStars Senior TT, which also saw him breaking the outright lap record with a lap of 132.701, which remains his fastest lap around the Mountain Course. He achieved podiums in both the 2016 RST Superbike and PokerStars Senior TT but missed last year’s TT race as he had a serious crash and had sustained critical injuries to which he’s still recovering from. However, he’s very positive and determined now and sees this deal as another opportunity to further strengthen his career.
Norton Motorcycles CEO Stuart Garner, speaking about the deal 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.”
He continues, “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.”