German magazine Speedweek is reporting that Norton will be back in GP racing for the 2012 season with a two-man team. Speedweek‘s highly respected Austrian journalist Gunther Wiesinger has received word that Norton has requested two spots on the 2012 MotoGP grid, and has signed a request to join the series when it returns to the 1000cc format. It’s unclear at this time if Norton will be entering as a claiming rule team (CRT), or be listed as a factory prototype, which could have a dramatic affect on the team’s success in the series.
If listed as a CRT, Norton will have the benefit of three more liters of fuel and three more engines during the 2012 season, whereas if the team is listed as a factory prototype, they won’t have these added benefits, and will have to compete with Honda, Yamaha, etc on an even keel. There is a possibility however that with how the rules are written that Norton could enter the 2012 season as a CRT, and then get moved up to factory prototype status if the team finds racing success halfway through the series.
With MotoGP’s 81mm maximum bore restriction, it would seem that Norton would be barred from enter a rotary-styled motor in MotoGP. Norton has been developing the Norton NRV700 for the past year, which is based off the company’s NRV500 that participated at Bonneville last year with it’s twin Wankel rotary. The British company seemed set on releasing some sort of production rotary motorcycle to the public, but with this development, it could be a sign that we’ll see a traditional piston-engined sportbike come into production from Norton.