Check the weather, because hell might have frozen over. Confirming rumors from late last year, John McGuinness has switched from Honda to Norton for his 2018 Isle of Man TT campaign.
The move is a bit of a surprise, as McGuinness has made his career as a diehard Honda rider, which has lead to 23 TT race wins at the Isle of Man.
But, things started to get interesting last year, when in December McGuinness wasn’t named as one of Honda’s road racing riders. To further fuel the fire, McPint was seen on social media checking out the Norton SG7.
Now officially official, John McGuinness will campaign on the Norton in the Superbike TT and Senior TT races at the 2018 Isle of Man TT. Boom goes the dynamite.
McPint’s move might be a sign of the times, however. The Honda CBR1000RR SP2 has proven itself to be a basket case of a racing platform, with the Honda team essentially sidelining the machine during the 2017 Isle of Man TT.
Under-powered and uncompetitive, McGuinness was surely frustrated with Honda’s lack of progress, while other brands showed considerably more promise at the Isle of Man.
Also too, a generation of new riders have come onto the road racing season in the past few seasons, making it all the more difficult for McGuinness to rack up race wins, as he chases Joey Dunlop’s record of 26 TT race wins.
Although still not a winning machine, the Norton SG project has shown considerable gains since its inception, and with the right rider it could be a podium machine, if not a race-winner.
Time will tell whether John McGuinness’s gamble will pay off, especially as he is still recovering from his crash at last year’s North West 200, but we do know that he will sound good doing it, with the Norton being an aural delight at the Isle of Man.
“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,” said McGuinness.
“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.”