Norton Motorcycles will be making a return to the Isle of Man TT “pretty soon” as the crowning achievement of its recovery from a near-collapse, according to interim CEO John Russell.
The British brand enters 2021 with renewed ambition and vigor almost 12 months after coming on the brink of collapse amid a pension scandal involving then-CEO Stuart Garner.
While this investigation is ongoing, Norton, as a motorcycle company, nearly shut down before being taken over by TVS Motors, one of India’s leading manufacturers.
What is Norton Motorcycles planning for 2021?
With the next 2020 months to relocate corporate offices, fulfill existing orders and return to full production – all against the specter of COVID-19 – Norton says hitting the famous Mountain Course on the Isle of Man once again remains in his plans.
The Blue Ribbon Road Race has been a centerpiece of Norton’s long legacy with multiple victories in different time periods over the past century. As such, Russell says a return to TT represents a great opportunity for the regenerated Norton to rebuild his reputation on the international stage.
“Norton is inextricably linked to racing, and in particular to TT. It has to be part of who we are in the future, ”he told Visordown in an exclusive interview. “How we get back, when we get back, who we partner with, what’s the bike, all of those things are yet to come.
“It has to happen fast enough, I can’t imagine a future for Norton on TVS where we say we’re not gonna run, the two things are so connected. I grew up in the back of the Geoff Duke era. and the Manx Norton was the coolest bike on the planet.
“You couldn’t talk or think about Norton without thinking about the race. They were dominant in these different times and the past was extraordinary. The same as Ferrari, you can’t imagine Ferrari not running [in F1], can you imagine Norton is not running.
“[We follow a] pursuit of excellence dimension, with the company and the enthusiasm that this creates. If you’re at the cutting edge of technological performance and get the last percent of the bike in a racing environment, it sharpens you in every other aspect of what you do.
“And it also creates a feeling of being the best and wanting to be successful, it creates a very positive behavior in the organization about how we can be the best and it spills over to the rest of the business.
“Then there is the development side. If you test your bike to the limit and experiment with new ways to squeeze better performance from the brakes, gearbox or motor, it doesn’t matter. It should play on your knowledge and understanding when developing your road bikes.
“I think it fits in fully and much more than in the automotive sector, where I was before. In the automotive sector it is optional, in the motorcycle sector it connects much more naturally to the heart of the company. It’s not an add-on, it’s part of the brand structure.
Norton made a big comeback in the TT in 2014 with the new V4RR sports bike, but despite a roster of illustrious riders around that time – including John McGuinness, Peter Hickman, Josh Brookes and Davey Todd – the success has proved quite successful. modest without show podiums for the two Superbike races and the Superlight category in which it was entered for 2020 before the cancellation of the TT.
The Isle of Man TT 2021 has since also been canceled due to the uncertainty of the COVID-19 situation