Australian star Cameron Donald will return to the Isle of Man TT this year after penning a sensational three-year deal with Norton Motorcycles.
There had been much speculation over whether or not Donald would continue racing this season but the popular 36-year-old will be back in action on the Mountain Course for the iconic British manufacturer in the summer.
Donald will compete in the Dainese Superbike and Pokerstars Senior TT races on Norton’s new SG3 machine, which has been put through its paces in testing by ex-racer Steve Plater.
Norton also secured the services of Mick Grant during the winter as the company steps up its development programme, underlining CEO Stuart Garner’s commitment as he strives to reinstate the famous marque as a serious contender once more on the Isle of Man.
“When Norton began talking to me about their plans for TT 2014 I knew it was an opportunity I didn’t want to miss,” Donald said. “With the enthusiasm and experience of the Norton team behind me and ex-TT winners such as Mick Grant and Steve Plater now involved, this is sure to be an exciting year.
“Norton is synonymous with the Isle of Man TT and I can’t wait to ride the new SG3 round the Mountain Course and add to their Isle of Man history.”
Donald will carry the number 19 plate this year, which Scottish legend Steve Hislop used when he claimed Norton’s last TT victory in an incredible Senior race with Carl Fogarty in 1992.
A winner in the Superbike and Superstock events at the TT for TAS Racing in 2008, Donald rode for Ulster team Wilson Craig Racing over the past three years and finished as the runner-up in the Superbike race last June.
Norton returned to the TT in 2009 with Michael Dunlop, but the bike was hopelessly unreliable.
Ian Mackman spearheaded the team’s next bid in 2012, but the cancellation of the Senior race denied Norton the chance of a race finish.
However, following further development last year, Mackman and Daniel Hegarty rode the SG2 machine, lapping at 122.277mph and 122.290mph respectively, with Mackman finishing 18th in the Superbike race.
Norton Motorcycle CEO Garner added: “Cameron is a really great rider to have on board, not only as a racer but also as a brand ambassador for Norton.
“His support, feedback and endorsement will all be really important to us both as a company and a race team as we look to and we are all relishing the challenge of developing a strong bike and team around him for the long-term.
“We will also be working with Cameron within our road bike business, primarily to help develop our Australasian markets where Norton, Cameron and the TT all have a great following.”
Hailing from Warrandyte, near Melbourne, Donald won the TT Newcomers Trophy in 2005 and set the paddock alight a year later when he took a stunning second place in the Senior TT.
He also set the first TT lap in excess of 131mph on the Relentless TAS Suzuki in 2009 during practice before a crash ruled him out of the meeting.
Donald has yet to win another race at the TT since his superb double six years ago, but he remains the eighth fastest rider ever to lap the Mountain Course with a speed of 130.729mph.