Kyle White: Norton and John McGuinness would be icing on the cake, but rules are rules
There is no question the addition of John McGuinness and the factory Norton to an already stellar North West 200 line-up would be the icing on the cake, but rules are rules.
Event Director Mervyn Whyte put a lot of hard work in behind the scenes to accommodate the hugely popular 23-time Isle of Man TT winner’s wish to race the British Norton in the Superbike class in May.
The new V4 machine does not meet the FIM homologation rules, but special dispensation can be granted at the discretion of the organisers to permit exclusive machines such as the Norton or the Honda RC213V-S to take part.
Race chief Whyte undertook the necessary steps to reach agreement with the sport’s governing body, the MCUI Ulster Centre, on accepting the Norton after receiving an entry stipulating the V4 – running Norton’s own motor as opposed the Aprilia-derived engine raced by Josh Brookes at the TT last year – had a displacement of 1000cc.
However, it later came to light that the Norton V4’s engine capacity is 1200cc, rendering the machine ineligible, with the regulations at the North West restricting four-cylinder Superbike machines to a maximum of 1010cc.
The deal worked out by Whyte in good faith was swiftly taken off the table.
Implementing the special dispensation workaround is one thing, but allowing a machine to compete against its rival four-cylinder manufacturers with an additional 200cc in hand proved a bridge too far.
Whether an alternative solution will be reached, such as McGuinness reverting to the 1000cc Aprilia motor used in the Norton SG7 from 2018, remains to be seen.
But for now, all bets are off.