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Smiths Racing to run Hickman's Norton Lightweight TT bike

Norton has confirmed it will contest the Lightweight race again at next year's Isle of Man TT with Peter Hickman, while also announcing a partnership with Smiths Racing

British manufacturer Norton contested the Lightweight class for 650 Supertwin machinery on the roads for the first time in 2019.

It ran a bike for 23-time TT winner John McGuinness at the North West 200, and had a three-rider entry at the TT comprising of McGuinness, Hickman and Davey Todd.

However, reliability woes meant only Hickman finished the race, securing an eighth-place finish despite having had minimal time on the bike beforehand.

Norton has confirmed Hickman will once again ride its bike in the Supertwins race at the TT, with his Smiths Racing outfit - with whom he shall remain for 2020 on the roads and in British Superbikes - running the bike to allow Norton to "focus on road production".

Stuart Garner, Norton CEO, tweeted: "Pleasure to continue working with Peter Hickman and [the] Norton 650 Superlight.

"We've partnered with Smiths Racing for the 2020 Lightweight TT.

"They're best at what they do and leaves us to focus on road bike production in a busy 2020."

The rest of Norton's road racing programme for '20 remains unknown.

McGuinness - who rode its Superbike this year - still has a contract with Garner's outfit, but is currently evaluating his next move following a difficult return season.

Failing to finish any race he started with the Norton at the TT, McGuinness told Autosport he wanted a proper test programme for the bike going forward.

However, Garner suggested to Autosport later in the year that McGuinness may not be the correct rider for such a task, and that it was cautious of putting too much focus into racing in case it detracted from its prime directive of road bike production.

McGuinness told Autosport last month he will hold discussions with Garner to see where both stand heading to 2020, and also revealed that he'd had talks with about racing a Ducati next year with Paul Bird Motorsport after a competitive Macau Grand Prix weekend with him.

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