Belfast Telegraph

Isle of Man TT: It's Norton show

By Roy Harris

The Isle of Man TT will once again reverberate to the sound of Norton machines as an iconic name makes a nostalgic return to this year's May 26-June 8 event.

It was announced yesterday that the great British manufacturer would be returning to race in the ‘Blue Riband’ Senior TT with Ian Mackman, the 2011 Privateers champion, in the saddle.

Norton will want to erase their 2009 return to the Island when, in the hands of Michael Dunlop, technical difficulties meant their bike failed to qualify for the race.

Norton first raced at the Isle of Man in 1907 and continued to enjoy success throughout the decades with 94 victories, the last coming in 1992 when Steve Hislop rode a Rotary Norton to victory after an epic battle with Carl Fogarty – arguably the greatest TT race of all time.

Norton boss Stuart Garner said: “After 2009, I said we would only return to the TT when we were ready. I am confident we can have a strong return in June, part of a long term project, and take the brand back to the front of the field.”

All the solo race winners from last year, John McGuinness, Michael Dunlop, Gary Johnson and Bruce Anstey, were joined by a host of competitors including past winners Ryan Farquhar, Ian Lougher (about to compete in his 28th TT), Cameron Donald, Adrian Archibald and returning from injury Ian Hutchinson on the Isle of Man yesterday for the launch of TT 2012 fuelled by Monster Energy.

Michael Dunlop, last years Superstock race winner, has a wide variety of machines available with a Honda Superbike, Kawasaki Superstock, Suzuki Supersport and a Kawasaki for the new Supertwin class running under the MD Racing / McAdoo banner as the confident and talented Ballymoney rider looks to add to his TT success.

William Dunlop rides for Wilson Craig Honda and will be looking for his first rostrum at the TT.

The Tyco Suzuki duo of Guy Martin and local man Conor Cummins will be looking for their first TT wins with Martin saying: “Conor will be right up there with everybody looking to the local rider to grab the glory, which means I can keep a low profile — something that suits me well as I look to score that first elusive TT win.”

The new Lightweight TT for Supertwin machines looks set to be a heavyweight contest with Farquhar, Michael Rutter, the Dunlops, Donald, Lougher, John Burrows, Davy Morgan, Archibald and Farquhar protégée Jamie Hamilton amongst the entry.

Hamilton, a former British champion from Ballyclare, will be a Mountain Circuit newcomer and will be the youngest rider on the grid at this year’s TT where he will be joined by another British champion and newcomer Lee Johnston from Maguiresbridge.

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