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1991 Ex-Works JPS Norton NRS588 Specification

Steve Spray's 1989 John Player Special Norton Rotary Engine

Steve Spray was a debut winner on his Norton in 1988 and won the 1989 F1 championship. In 1990 Robert Dunlop notched a double in Ireland's North West 200 and Dunlop finished third in the F1 TT and Nation placing second in the senior.

JPS Norton, ridden by a previously little known rider scored 6 wins, several poduims and lap records for most of the home circuits. Team mate Trevor Nation won two events and set two lap records on it. Steve Spray took the 1989 British Formula One Championship in it yet Bright Crighton, the man who was first convinced of the rotaries future as a recer, was told he could build a racer as long as he did it in his own time and expense. He began with a written off police bike engine producing 75bhp in a lightweight race frame, it clocked 170mph. When it won its first big race the then Norton boss, Philippe Le Roux, gave the go ahead and some funds. At first Duckhams Oils sponsored a team, later JPS took over.

Robert Dunlop's JPS Norton

Liquid cooled engines replaced air cooled engines while the finish changed to black and silver to suit the tobacco companies new cigarette. TT results were disappointing with minor mechanical failures but back home these machines were sensational.

Robert Dunlop's JPS Norton

The engine was rated a 588cc, 1176cc or 1764cc depending on what method you used to calculate it. Naturally Norton claimed it was 588cc, the international race body, the FIM, compomised and rated it 1176cc, which kept it out of most races but our ACU allowed it to race in events under their control as a 588cc engine. Later the FIM changed their ruling to regard the Norton as a 999.6cc as from 1989, which made it eligible for more events. Until race engines are rated on power output or fuel consumption or both, the future of the Wankel enine is uncertain.

Trevor Nation's JPS Norton

On short circuits, Norton notched three MCN Supercup wins, two by new team rider Terry Rymer and one by Robert Dunlop But with the factory in a deeping crisis, JPS withdrew sponsorship at the end of 1992.



Collection of JPS Norton's

There were upheavals at Norton over the winter of 1990-1991. Rcse programme instigator Brian Crighton left to set up the Roton equipe, racing Rotaries sponsored by an Australian company. Barry Symonds, who had become Norton's team manager in 1990, oversaw the JPS equipe at premises set up by Crighton away from the main factory.

Ron Haslam's JPS Norton

Ron Haslam joined as development rider and Norton's new NSR588 Rotary racer appeared in mid-1991. It differed from the RCW in having a frame designed by Ron Williams of Maxton Engineering and made in aluminium by Harris Performance Products. Its F1 roadster-based liquid-cooled engine ran backwards, primary drive was now by belt and the gearbox contained a Yamaha-based six-speed cluster.

Norton Rotary RC588

Norton were permitted to contest 500cc Grand Prix during 1991 and scored world championship points when Steve Spray took his Roton Norton to 15th place in Australia and Haslam was 12th in the British GP - on an RCW. Haslam broke several circuit records in the MCN TT Superbike championship but had to settle for second place in the series after several poor starts. Trevor Nation, who did not like the NRS, left the team at the emd of 1991.

Ultimate glory came in 1992 when Steve Hislop won an epic Senior TT. He average

  • Engine - Liquid pressure cooled twin-rotar rotary
  • Displacement - 588cc
  • Compression Ratio - 9.2:1
  • Carburation - Twin Keihin flat slide down draught
  • Ignition - Norton reluctor triggered capacitor discharge
  • Tachometer - Stack, 30 minute memory system
  • Gearbox - Norton six-speed, constant mesh
  • Clutch - 18 plate 'wet' clutch using sintered bronze friction plates and diaphragm spring
  • Power output - More than 135 bhp @ 9800 rpm at shaft
  • Maximum torque - 78 lbs/ft @ 8000 rpm
  • Frame - Fabricated aluminium twin spar, designed by Ron Williams, fabricated by Harris Performance and assembled by JPS Norton Racing
  • Subframe - Composite saddle
  • Suspension - Front; White Power upside down forks, Rear: Multiple cantilever single shock
  • Brakes - Twin 310mm front discs with four piston one-piece Lockhead calipers
  • Wheels - 3.75 x 17 three-spoke magnesium PVM front wheel. 6.00 x 17 three-spoke magnesium PVM rear wheel
  • Tyres - Michelin radials
  • Weight - Less than 135 kg