Here are the facts: 200 hp, 100 ft.-lbs, and 700cc. If you’re guessing what engine is capable of producing numbers like this, you’re probably looking in the wrong direction. No, this isn’t coming from a piston engine, but a rotary. And the Crighton Racing CR700P is the fulfillment of Brian Crighton’s dream of taking on the racing establishment with some outside-the-box engineering.
Brian Crighton has been obsessed with rotary engines, and their performance, since 1986, when he was first hired at Norton as a service engineer. He quickly moved up the ranks and was determined to not only take the rotary to the racetrack, but win with it, too. Crighton’s passion for rotary racing on two wheels reached its peak in 1994, when his Crighton Norton racing team scored 52 podium positions, with Ian Simpson winning the British Supercup Championship and Phil Borley taking 3rd spot.
The team disbanded after the 1994 season as rule changes banned rotary engines from competing. Since then Crighton hasn’t stopped his mission of progressing rotary technology. At the heart of the CR700P is a 700cc twin rotor Wankel engine dubbed the Rotron RT700. Unfortunately, the magic ingredients of making 200 hp and 100 ft./lbs. are a closely guarded secret.
However, what is known is that rotary engines are notorious for running hot. Crighton believes it has that problem cured in the CR700P with what it calls its, “Rotron Pressurised Gas Cooling system which allows substantially increased maximum continuous power at high rpm, but with minimal radial and torsional vibration and reduced component wear.” The heat exchanger is located under the seat, and bodywork ducting channels air towards it.
Speaking of bodywork, the rest of the CR700P retains a close resemblance to the Norton NRV588, which makes sense considering Crighton’s influence on both bikes. The frame is an identical aluminum beam type used on the NRV588. From there, Bitubo suspension sits at both ends, Brembo provides the front four-piston calipers and 320mm discs, AP Racing the rear single disc and twin-piston caliper, and Dunlop supplies tires. Wheelbase is somewhere around 57 inches.
If the video below of Jamie Whitham flogging the bike is any indication, Crighton might need to make the wheelbase even longer to keep the front wheel on the ground! It’s a great looking machine, matched by an intoxicating exhaust note not found anywhere else. Crighton, if you’re reading this, we want a ride!