While Norton Motorcycles finds itself currently in the middle of a relaunch period, having recently resurrected the brand at its Donington Park headquarters, being widely rumored to contend in MotoGP for the 2012 season, and just a month ago announcing that it would return to the North American motorcycle market, more changes seem in store for the historic British company. Announced today was the surprise move that sees famed South African motorcycle designer Pierre Terblanche moving from Piaggio, where he was working on revamping the Moto Guzzi line, to Norton Motorcycles.
The historic British motorcycle brand Norton is set to return to the United States with its Commando 961’s next year. Heading up Norton’s push into the US market is former Ducati North America CEO Dan Van Epps, who also served time with Ducati in Bologna, acting as the company’s Director of Overseas Markets and Head of Product Marketing. Starting in May 2011, Van Epps and his crew will begin importing Norton Commando 961 Sport, Café Racer, and SE models. Built off the classic Norton lines, the Commando 916 series features a 916cc fuel-injected parallel twin motor, along with Öhlins suspension and Brembo brakes.
Oberdan Bezzi has seized on the news that Norton intends to field a MotoGP bike in 2012, and came up with a drawing of what that British-born race bike could look like. The Italian designer sees Norton using a carbon-framed chassis to house its four-cylinder motor with pneumatic valves, and of course with a British rider at the helm. Obiboi sees Norton rocking the white paint-job, but we’re hoping that Norton will choose a color that stands out from the pack a bit more…British Racing Green perhaps?
Source: Oberdan Bezzi
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.
We were disappointed last summer when the Norton NRV588 didn’t take a lap at speed around the Isle of Man circuit during the TT, but that didn’t stop the British racing team from clocking 178mph on the salt flats. It looks like Norton Racing has taken the data they’ve learned from the NRV588 and plan to refine the machine into a 700cc race-spec motorcycle that’s an evolution of the current 588cc pocket rocket. Altough Norton plays it coy on their website, rumor has it that they’re reportedly eying the British Superbike series and maybe even a World Superbike comeback within the next three years.
Norton Racing let it all hang out that last few days of Bub Week’s motorcycle speed trials at Bonneville this past week, and we know this for two reasons: One, check out the lad on the far left of the above photo, he’s not sucking in that gut, that’s just pure British sexiness at its finest. Secondly, the Norton Racing team is coming back from the salt flats with a recorded speed of 173 mph.
In contrast to Confederate Motorcycles’s forth year on the Bonneville Salt Flats, Norton Racing is also present at Bub Week with their rotary-powered NRV588, trying their luck for the first time out on the salt. With no FIM sanctioned class to race in, Norton isn’t going for a land speed record per se, but instead hopes that their efforts this year will provide the adequate momentum to have a sanctioned LSR class for rotary motorcycles in 2010.
One of the most successful TT racers of the 1950’s and 1960’s, the Manx Norton dominated the 50cc and 350cc classes. This 350cc Model 40M features a “Featherbed” frame, and was raced in the 1957 Isle of Man TT by Norton Team rider, Bob Keeler. Keeler owned and raced this motorcycle as a privateer racer with factory support from Norton. The bike is now owned by Allan Grimm of Piedmont, California. Pictures after the jump.
The 2009 Isle of Man TT was to be the return of Norton motorcycles to the island and its Mountain Course. It has been 16 years since the British manufacturer raced the city streets of the Isle, and we eagerly awaited their return to the TT, and the showing of their rotary motor powered NRV 588 race bike. We, like many others, were disappointed then to see the Norton only shuffle around on a parade lap, and not tearing down the asphalt in the quest for absolute speed.
You may remember the news that Norton was preparing an entry into this years Isle of Man TT. Visordown has caught up with the British team at Donington Park recently, and has posted a video of the Norton team testing the rotary motor powered NRV588, and running it on their dyno. The bike sounds vicious, and the glowing exhaust pipes, menacing. It won’t be long now until we can see the fruits of Norton’s labor. Watch the video after the jump.