TWENTY-THREE-TIME Isle of Man TT winner John McGuinness has signed for Norton Racing ahead of his planned comeback from injury for 2018.
The 45-year-old was forced out of the 2017 Isle of Man TT after a nasty crash at the North West 200 during practice for the Superbike race in which he suffered a broken vertebrae, ribs and compound fractures to his right lower leg.
McGuinness has been using an external fixator cage to heal his right leg and is targeting a comeback this year with Norton to team-mate Josh Brookes after splitting with Honda at the end of last season.
McGuinness, who was feared to be out of top level road racing because of his leg injury, is relishing his return with iconic manufacturer Norton in the Superbike and Senior TT races.
“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,” McGuinness said. “Right now, things are going well. 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.
“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 CEO Stuart Garner is thrilled to secure McGuinness and is confident his experience an knowledge at the TT can help the team reach the next level.
“We’ve been talking to John for a year or more, he’s the talent,” Garner said. “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.
“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.”
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