John McGuinness: Norton TT deal has given me new lease of life

John McGuinness with Norton CEO Stuart Garner at Castle Donington.
John McGuinness with Norton CEO Stuart Garner at Castle Donington.

Isle of Man TT great John McGuinness says his deal to ride for Norton in 2018 has given him a new lease of life.

McGuinness has been confirmed alongside Josh Brookes in Stuart Garner’s team and is relishing the chance to follow in the footsteps of fellow Mountain Course legend Steve Hislop, who famously won the Senior race for Norton after an epic battle with Carl Fogarty in 1992.

John McGuinness will ride the latest Norton SG7 in the Superbike and Senior races at the Isle of Man TT.

John McGuinness will ride the latest Norton SG7 in the Superbike and Senior races at the Isle of Man TT.

The Morecambe man is continuing his recovery from injury following a crash at last year’s North West 200 but McGuinness says he is making solid progress.

“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,” said the 23-time TT winner.

“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,” McGuinness added.

“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.”

Norton Motorcycles CEO Garner revealed McGuinness had been on his wish list for ‘a long time’ and said he was delighted to finally get his man.

“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 said.

“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.”

McGuinness last won a TT Superbike race in 2015, when he claimed victory in the Senior, breaking the outright lap record with a lap of 132.701mph – his fastest ever around the 37.73-mile course.