Hickman set to put Norton on top: Smiths racing to develop Superlight
Peter Hickman will bid to win the Lightweight TT in 2020 onboard a Smiths Racing-prepared Norton Superlight. The Louth based team, who have a proven pedigree of building bikes to the highest level for the Roads and in BSB, will pick up development of the Norton Superlight Hicky rode this year.
"To make a bike a race winner it needs a lot of experience behind it. They’ve got great guys at Norton, but they’re there building road bikes, not race bikes," Hickman said.
"It’s a different type of expertise that’s needed to push the bike forwards. We can still use their knowledge, because at the end of the day nobody knows their bike more than them. But what we need to do from a racing perspective is slightly different."
The deal comes after Hickman exceeded expectations when he set a 120mph lap on the Norton Superlight to finish eighth in its debut this year – a result that came after only a half day of testing at Rockingham and very few development opportunities.
"I think the bike has a lot of potential. For a start, it handles really well, which is especially important with the lightweight bikes. They don’t have much horsepower, so they need to be able to turn properly and the bike did that immediately.
"Of course, there are things we need to change. It’s really heavy, heavier than my superbike, because it’s still a road bike. A lot has to be done to make it lighter."
Work is also needed on the engine. Currently, the Superlight’s engine is designed to rev to beyond 13,000rpm, but there is an 11,000rpm restriction in the Lightweight class.
"The bike only really gets going at 10,000rpm. This made it a little bit difficult to ride, but I still managed to go over 120mph. Once the bike got going it was fast, it just took too long to get there."
The move by Norton to hand over development to the proven Smiths Racing team allows the British firm to concentrate on the core business of building and delivering road bikes. The close-knit and highly successful Smiths Racing team have experience of developing a brand new bike, having taken the all new BMW S1000RR to TT glory, despite its late arrival.
Hickman is also the man for the job, having become the TT benchmark over the last two years. In 2019 he secured three wins as well as winning the Superstock race at the North West 200. He also ensured that the Ulster Grand Prix became the world’s fastest road race once again, with a lap of 136.415mph.
"I think the podium is realistic and the win would be the cherry on top. I don’t go into anything thinking that we can hopefully finish sixth! The reason we’re doing this is because I feel the bike has potential. If I didn’t feel that, I wouldn’t be doing it," he said.
And if he can take the Superlight to success in 2020 it will be extra special for Hickman because his father worked with Norton in the 1980s and 90s.
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Peter Hickman is honoured on Triumph's Avenue of Legends
First published: 03 December 2019 by Ben Clarke
Roads and BSB racer, Peter Hickman, has had his name added to the Avenue of Legends walkway outside the Triumph Visitor Experience in Hinckley.
Hickman had an impressive year in 2019 onboard his Triumph Daytona 675 supersport machine, taking victories in the Isle of Man TT Supersport, plus three wins from pole position at the Ulster GP.
"It’s been amazing having full backing from Triumph this year," said Hickman at the unveiling event.
"I started this year by walking along the Avenue of Legends and thinking maybe I could get my name added with a TT win, and that’s exactly what we did."
Triumph’s Miles Perkins added that the British brand were proud to add Hickman’s name after such a strong year. "Hopefully we’ll have more racing names to add in the coming years."
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