After weeks of speculation and rumour, today it has been confirmed that John McGuinness will race for Norton at the 2018 Isle of Man TT.
The 23-time TT winner has signed a deal with the British marque that will see him return to the mountain course for the first time since breaking his tibia and fibular in a horrific crash at the North West 200 last year.
While the McGuinness-Norton link-up has been rumoured for some time, the Morecambe Missile only signed a deal with Norton boss Stuart Garner last week and MCN were there to witness the marriage of two of the most iconic names in road racing.
“After the crash I was buggered,” McGuinness explained. “My back was broken, my leg was in bits and I didn’t know whether I’d ever feel like I could get back on a bike again.
“I never wanted to finish my career with something like that, I didn’t do anything wrong. I was doing what I was doing and in a split second I’m on top of a golf course with a broken leg and I bloody hate golf!
“It’s been a long old process and a bloody ugly one too, but in the last few weeks I’ve come on leaps and bounds. I went to see the surgeon at the end of December and he told me I’m healing like a 30-year-old.
“I now feel much better, a lot sharper than I was. My head is in gear and I’m ready to go, I can finally see a light at the end of the tunnel and with this Norton deal coming up I’m fully charged again.
“I definitely feel ready for a change and everything about this deal made sense. From the first meeting I had with Stuart the passion was there and that runs through everyone in the factory. I spent enough time watching the bike last year to know it’s a good bike, there’s no doubt it is capable of results.”
One thing McGuinness was clear about during our time with him at the Norton factory was that this is far from the end of career PR stunt some have suggested – the fire is well and truly still in his belly to add to his tally of 23 TT wins.
“It’s going to take some time and work, but I’m up for the challenge. I know how a bike operates, I’ve done 49,500 miles around the TT (I’ve had a lot of time to work that out while injured!) on two strokes, four strokes, singles, v-twins. I’ve certainly got the experience.
“Stuart [Garner – Norton boss] talks a lot about development time and doesn’t demand results but for me it’s all about results. I’m not bothered about selling bikes and that, I want to spray some champagne!”
For the full, exclusive interview with John about the Norton switch pick up this week’s MCN.