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Lone Wolf and confusing ambitions with capabilities


BAGS is an acronym for Big Audacious Goals, much used in business schools to describe the level of ambition needed by high flying business executives if they are going to reach the top of the greasy pole.

It is certainly a fitting description for the Norton plan to be in MotoGP next year. Ambition is not to be knocked, cynicism is to be avoided but it is hard not to be a tad sceptical. Whether or not it is possible is one thing, whether it is wise to even attempt it is another.


History is littered with stories of would-be British world beaters. Some had pedigree names attached to them like Cosworth or, many years earlier, BRM. There was KRM from Hull and a number, never actually hailed as world beaters, like the REG or, more light-heartedly the Fred Marsh four.

Probably the most successful, as it did win the most famous race in the world, was - wait for it - a Norton. It was powered by rotary engine and in 1992 the great Steve Hislop won the Senior TT. Of course, in the first half of the last century, Norton won world championship races by the dozen with their 350 and 500 Manx singles. Then the Italian fours arrived.

Despite that heritage, and brave words by Norton boss Stuart Garner, most people, including yours truly, think that Norton are out of their tiny mind. Mr Garner is careful to say they are not expecting to win, not finishing last is their objective for 2012 and top ten after three years.

Modest objectives, you might say, but their biggest challenge will be getting to the first event let alone making the starting line-up or even not finishing last. And the challenge will not be because we are not capable of building an engine which can compete, we are certainly capable of building world beating racing car engines, it is raising the money to do it. And having the odd million or two will not be enough.

But it may be possible, if difficult. Second question, is it a good idea? Plenty of people said it was rather more than bold for Ducati to take on the might of the Japanese in MotoGP. We all know what happened.

When John Bloor, a house builder, bought Triumph, rather as Stuart Garner has bought the Norton name, very few people gave him a cat in hells chance of succeeding. His is one of the great success stories of British manufacturing and has gone largely unrecognised, partly because he does not seek personal recognition.

He did however make one important decision - not to go racing.

But like Ducati, Norton have a racing heritage. It is just a little more distant. We all love a little bit of craziness, the world would be dull place without it. Good luck to Norton. They may just succeed.



A young man with the somewhat curious name of Judd Trump achieved a great deal of media coverage over the weekend by almost winning the World Snooker Championship. What caused all the fuss? Although a professional for five years he came, at the ripe old age of 20, within a frame or two of becoming world champion. More importantly, he blew most of the established players away with a 'no fear' style that left the crowd stunned with it's bravado. Yes, snooker was exciting!

At Brands Hatch and Oulton Park we saw two young riders who, mark the wise words of Wolf, will be the Judd Trumps in two or three years time. Kyle Ryde is a 13 year old (yes, thirteen!) who finished second in the 125cc races at both meetings and has been attacting a lot of attention in the Red Bull series in Europe.

Danny Buchan is another teenager, although positively ancient compared with Kyle, who rides for MSS Kawasaki in the Superstock 1000. He exploded on the scene at Brands, finishing second, and repeated the performance at Oulton.

Watch this space.

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