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Last Updated: Thursday, 31 July, 2003, 12:11 GMT 13:11 UK
Bike world mourns Hislop death
Steve Hislop
Hislop won his second British title last season

Air accident investigators are searching for the cause of the helicopter crash in which British Superbike champion Steve Hislop was killed.

He was flying the helicopter when it came down on a remote farm near Teviothead, near his birthplace of Hawick in the Scottish Borders.

Hislop, 41, had won the British Superbike title in 1995 and 2002 and also won 11 races at the Isle of Man TT.

Among the tributes being paid to him is one from the Scottish Sports Minister, Frank McAveety, who said: "His record speaks for itself and his determination to race again after serious injuries show clearly the dedication and commitment he had to his sport."

Inspectors from the Department of Transport's air accident branch have been sent to the crash site to try to determine what caused the helicopter to come down.

A post-mortem examination is also expected to be carried out on Mr Hislop's body.

Lothian and Borders Police were alerted to the accident at 1650 BST on Wednesday, but a spokesman said it may have happened earlier in the day.

Steve Hislop factfile
1962: Born in Hawick, Scotland, on 11 January
1990: Claims British 250cc title
1994: Wins Isle of Man TT
1995: Clinches British Superbike championship
2000: Breaks neck during championship round at Brands Hatch
2002: Fights back to take second British Superbike title
Firefighters and other rescuers had to use a four-wheel drive vehicle to get from the A7 road to the scene.

The helicopter crashed down on moorland, leaving wreckage scattered over a wide area.

Inspector Kevin Murray said: "The aircraft is being examined and I would anticipate that over the next couple of days it will be removed.

"I understand it goes south to Farnborough for a full and thorough investigation there."

Pat Douglas, 47, said her husband Walter, 51, came across the crash scene while tending livestock.

"We didn't see or hear anything really. We heard a helicopter buzzing around earlier today but we were not aware that anything was untoward until later," said Mrs Douglas.

She said Caerlanrig farm is the nearest inhabited building to the scene of the accident.

"We are about half a mile from where the crash happened."

Farm worker John Hepburn, 18, from Teviothead, who saw the crash scene, said: "The main body of the helicopter was on top of a bank and the tail was below, next to a burn.

The crash scene
Crash investigations are under way
"You would hardly know it was a helicopter unless you knew what had happened."

Hislop was a regular race winner but suffered two horrific accidents which would have ended a lesser rider's career.

In 2000 he broke his neck at Brands Hatch while a year later he was within touching distance of another title when he crashed into title rival John Reynolds at Rockingham.

He ploughed into the concrete retaining wall at terrifying speed and suffered a badly broken leg, ankle and collarbone, costing him the title.

Hislop, who was born in Hawick, was a popular face at racetracks around the country.

Nicknamed 'Hizzy', he enjoyed wild card appearances in World Superbikes and regularly upset the international stars on home turf.

Willie Simson
The place is devastated, everybody is on a downer
Willie Simson,
Friend of Steve Hislop
In the town of Denholm, where Hislop grew up, locals have been left shocked by the death.

He began racing from the TB Oliver garage in the town as a schoolboy and served his time as a mechanic there.

Garage owner Willie Simson then went on to become his mechanic.

"The place is devastated, everybody is on a downer," said Mr Simson.

Alistair Flanagan, the team manager at ETI Ducati bikes, added his tribute to the rider.

"Steve will never be forgotten, he was an ambassador for the sport."

BBC Scotland's Isabel Fraser
"Pride in Steve's success was shared throughout the whole community"

Hislop sacked again
07 Jul 03  |  Motorbikes
Hislop aiming to retain his title
05 Feb 03  |  Motorbikes

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