Q: You’ve said “Norton is a racing brand, so Norton must race.” Can you comment on the rumors that Norton is preparing a MotoGP bid?
A: Today it’s far too early, but two years from now we indeed want to be in World Champ-ionship racing; it’s where Norton belongs. To even think of entering MotoGP is a completely daunting task. But we’ve done some homework and we think it’s entirely feasible.
Q: What “homework” have you done?
A: We approached Dorna several months ago to learn what running a MotoGP team involved—how many trucks, what sort of staff, what budget to travel to 18 championship rounds in 12-14 countries. I’ve attended several races this year, spoken to people in the paddock and gotten inside some of the teams to have a look around. Once I learned more about it, the fear started to fade.
Q: Is Dorna supportive of the idea?
A: Yes. Carmelo Ezpeleta has offered us grid places for two riders for five years from 2012 onwards, as a works team, not a claiming rights team. That’s what we’re looking to put together. We have to make a decision by the end of this year. If we’re not done by then, we physically wouldn’t have enough time to develop the bike.
Q: What would a Norton MotoGP racebike look like?
A: We’ll develop the engine ourselves. It won’t be a rotary, and it probably won’t be a twin or a triple. A V4 technically looks like the way to go, because of its compact packaging. We own Spondon, so the chassis is taken care of.
Q: Will a production street replica be offered for sale?
A: We’re already at work on a production 1000cc V4 engine. This is quite different from what any racing engine would be, but it will power a few different models. The first will either be a superbike or a streetfighter—but we don’t need to make that decision for a few months yet.