Sensational coup for British manufacturer Norton as the King of the Mountain, John McGuinness is announced as a rider for the Isle of Man TT.
The sound and fury of the silver SG-prefixed Norton V4s have become a welcome fixture of the Isle of Man TT since Stuart Garner and his team reintroduced the brand to the Island with the SG1 back in 2012.
With a noise that Asphalt & Rubber referred to at the time as being “somewhere between “Four Horseman (sic) of the Apocalypse” and “Queen of the Harpies” — as heard from several miles out”, the presence of the machines across the mountain course has been beloved by the crowds and even recognised officially by the Isle of Man race organisers from a technical perspective.
Now those excitement and achievement levels are expected to increase tenfold as the legend that is John McGuinness has been confirmed as an official rider of the Norton V4 race-bike for this year’s Isle of Man TT races in May & June 2018.
We thought we’d seen the road racing worlds’ collective brains explode after the announcement of McGuinness riding with Guy Martin for Honda last year, but with the near-mythical alignment of the brands McGuinness and Norton for this year’s event, we’re certain that the level of anticipation will be off the charts when the King of the Mountain first swings his leg over the shiny, chrome Norton V4 during practice week!
— Stuart Garner (@norton_ceo) February 7, 2018
Speaking about the announcement, McGuinness seems at his normal, self-effacing best with his tweet of the announcement finished with the hashtag #bitofunfinishedbusiness.
Well guys the news is out, really happy and excited to be working with @norton_ceo and all the passionate people at Norton. New chapter in my life and it just feels right. #bitofunfinishedbusiness pic.twitter.com/LplZuphLJW
— John McGuinness (@jm130tt) February 7, 2018
And naturally, CEO of Norton Motorcycles, Stuart Garner is optimistically upbeat.
— Isle of Man TT (@iom_tt) February 7, 2018
But the best part of it all? We called it weeks ago!*
*But then even a stopped clock is right twice a day!
And if you were in any doubt as to how happy the McGuinness family are with the switch, the latest tweet by John’s wife Becky should set your mind at rest…
— Rebecca McGuinness (@becky1975em) February 7, 2018
How McGuinness and Honda parted ways.
There’s no doubting that all was not well within the Honda road racing camp last year, but it wasn’t always that way. With the new CBR1000RR being introduced and with John McGuinness and Guy Martin being announced as the new ‘dream team’ for the Honda team, the start of the 2017 road racing season was met with excitement and rampant expectation. But then the accidents started to happen.
With the horrendous crash of McGuinness at the NW200LATEST: John McGuinness has leg operation but in good spirits and subsequent issues with the new Fireblade causing problems and a crisis of confidence for Guy Martin, the dream of 2017 dominance quickly transformed into something closer to a nightmare.
And then, weeks later and buried beneath problematical news about a prospective Guy Martin retirement that he quickly debunked came the admittance and confirmation from Honda that it was an issue with the bike that had caused the 23 time Isle of Man TT winner to fall and break his leg. Issues that had plagued other riders during the remainder of the season and issues that McGuinness had surely fed back to the team after his accident.
Weeks later, and as the rest of the world led with the news of Ian Hutchinson joining the 2018 Honda road racing team, the lack of a future for John McGuinness at Honda seemed certain to even the most casual of observer; despite the headlines of the press seemingly ignoring the obvious.
This was a narrative helped along with a few timely tweets from the TT legend himself over the holiday period.
Yeah it's been magic https://t.co/dhpiqOQJzk
— John McGuinness (@jm130tt) December 31, 2017
Couple all of that with the now infamous snap of him on a Norton TT bike from race organiser Paul Phillips, and you can see what set the tongues at Motofire HQ wagging. Sometimes a lot of speculation and a modicum of thought can go a long way!
— Paul Phillips (@PaulPhillips_TT) November 26, 2017
With John McGuinness getting himself into shape for his visit to the Island and Norton genuinely attacking podium places at this year’s TT, we can’t think about anything else now, other than seeing – and hearing – McGuinness on that glorious, chromed-out V4, tearing down Bray Hill.