Josh Brookes has joined fellow Aussie David Johnson at Norton for this year's Isle of Man TT.
Brookes, recently confirmed in the TAG Racing Anvil Hire Yamaha team for the MCE British Superbike Championship, will return to the Mountain Course for the first time in two years on the all-new Norton SG6.
The 2015 BSB champion claimed the fastest newcomer title at the TT in 2013 before taking a best finish of seventh in the 2014 Senior race with his fastest ever TT lap, a staggering 129.859mph, set in only his second year at the island.
Brookes, currently at home in Australia, said: “Firstly I want to come back to the TT. After SMR said I couldn't ride at the TT over the last two years I've been desperate to get back and race at the island. I like the history of the Norton and it will be so great to be a little part of the Norton story.
“It's just something that interests me, and I'm really excited by the project. It's always hard to predict results, especially around the island so I think it's important that I let it come to me. I've not been for two years, and I don't know how much the Norton bike has improved, but I hear great things about the bike.”
Brookes is aiming for a 132mph lap this year and hopes to finish well inside the top ten on the iconic British machine.
“My first ever race at the TT was in the Superbike and I got a top ten, so let's hope we are better than that at least, but realistically if we finish the races without a problem, and I'm in the 132mph club by the end of the fortnight then we'll be celebrating.”
Johnson, meanwhile, who clocked a superb 130.872mph lap last year at the TT and finished seventh in the RST Superbike race, feels he has the opportunity to challenge for the rostrum this year.
“As a team we did such a great job last year, we all worked awesomely as a team and I really felt at home with Norton. Without that sort of relationship with your team it's almost impossible to get good results. I knew the 2017 bike was going to be better again after what we learnt in 2016, so I wanted to stay and make the next step with Norton.
“This year I know if everything goes smoothly with no problems we can battle for the podium, I'm ready to be up there and I feel the bike will be too. But like I said, everything must be perfect as everyone is really flying these days.
“We had a small bike problem in the Senior TT last year which caused my 'concentration malfunction' but before that we were up dicing for a top five position and my ideal lap was 131.5mph, so I'm confident for good things this year.”
Norton CEO, Stuart Garner, holds a strong hand for this year's TT races and is confident both riders can take the development of the Norton to the next level.
“There are a couple of reasons why we wanted to sign Josh Brookes. Firstly, he gives us the opportunity of a world class short circuit rider to move along the V4 road bike development, and secondly, with his TT rider experience and his achievement of being fastest newcomer in 2013, Josh is clearly capable of a 130mph-plus lap,” he said.
“Given the requirements of the team at this stage of the project this makes him a perfect rider for Norton.”
Turning his attention to Johnson, he added: “To come in last year and move the development on and do all but a 131mph lap was a huge achievement and ground-breaking for the team.
“There's a huge amount of respect from everyone in the Norton team for everything he has achieved and Davo has more than earned his place back on the bike in 2017.”
The SG6 will feature the V4 Aprilia CRT motor with Norton's own V4 engine being raced in 2018. Heavily based on the TT racer geometry-wise, the V4 SS road bike is almost identical to the SG6 TT bike in terms of frame stiffness, weight distribution and chassis.
Ian Mackman, who rode for the team in 2013, will join experienced Norton Race Manager Johnny Cusack in the team along with TT legend Mick Grant, who will continue in his role as Senior Advisor adding his extensive TT experience to the factory squad.