Norton to Race Isle of Man TT with RSV4-Powered Prototype

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Norton Motorcycles announced it will compete in the 2012 Isle of Man TT with a new racebike.

The as-yet-unnamed racebike will use an Aprilia RSV4 engine with a chassis from Spondon Engineering. If that formula sounds familiar, it’s because it sounds like of MotoGP’s new Claiming Rule Team machines. Norton doesn’t mention MotoGP directly in its announcement, though it did say it will receive no factory support from Aprilia just like several CRT efforts.

Critics will argue the racebike is not a real Norton as it uses an engine and frame from other manufacturers (though it should be noted Norton had previously used a Spondon chassis in its NRV588 racebike). Norton did make a number of its own components at its Donington Park facility, including its traditional polished aluminum fuel tank.

Norton’s TT racer is also equipped with Ohlins suspension and Brembo brakes and electronics from Active Technologies Limited.

The British manufacturer is setting modest goals for itself in this year’s Isle of Man TT. Norton says it only wants a solid finish this year, though it hopes to challenge for a podium in three years.

Norton says it has been looking for a return to racing for the last 12-18 months, but without a homologated production version, World Superbike and British Superbike were out of the question. It’s been previously reported Norton was planning a MotoGP effort but Norton claims  TT racing “stood out as the very obvious choice for Norton”.

“The hard edge style of racing which gets much closer to fans and supporters in a true and real world way which is a very genuine and passionate form of racing, appeals to Norton far more than the energy drink and lycra clad pit lane of homologated road bike racing,” Norton said in its announcement.

Norton says its three-year racing project will be entirely funded by sponsorships and other commercial racing income, without touching any money from its motorcycle production business.

Norton last attempted to compete in the Isle of Man TT in 2009 shortly after Stuart Garner purchased the British marque. The team fielded Michael Dunlop on the NRV588 but failed to qualify for the Senior TT. The last time Norton qualified for the Senior TT was in 1992, with Steve Hislop upsetting Carl Fogarty to give Norton its 43rd TT win.

Reigning TT privateer champion Ian Mackman will ride Norton’s racer in the June 8 Isle of Man Senior TT race.

[Source: Norton, IOMTT]

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