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  Wednesday, 5 February, 2003, 17:11 GMT
Hislop aiming to retain his title
Steve Hislop was shocked to be sacked by the Ducati team
Hislop has switched from Ducati to Yamaha
British Superbike champion Steve Hislop is determined to make the most of what he believes will be his final season of racing.

The Scot will ride a Yamaha R1 in this year's series, after being sacked by the MonsterMob Ducati team soon after last season's championship success.

"It is getting harder every year to get the necessary sponsorship and I am not getting any younger so I think this campaign will be my last," he told BBC Sport Online.

The 41-year-old has enjoyed a distinguished career, including domestic Superbike titles in 1995 and 2002 and the British 250cc crown in 1990.

He also won 11 races at the Isle of Man TT, but feels he could have achieved even greater success had he forsaken the pure road races earlier.

"I regret that I never competed for a full season at world level, either in Grand Prixs or in World Superbikes.

Michael Rutter rides for the Renegade Ducati team
Michael Rutter: Title contender

"I enjoyed racing on the roads but I think the fact that I was known as a road racer perhaps held me back from competing at a higher level and making some good money."

The Manx-based veteran was offered a ride on a Harris two-stroke machine for the 2003 MotoGP series but turned down the offer as he did not believe the bike would be competitive.

Instead, he has opted to defend the crown he lifted last season.

"I think I can win races on the Yamaha this year although the Ducatis will be difficult to beat as the bike I rode last year was awesome.

"I was even more determined to win the series in 2002, having been injured while leading the championship the previous year but I was pushed hard all the way.

"The Ducati was probably the best bike I have ever ridden but I have worked with Rob McElnea's Yamaha team before and they are very professional.

"I was surprised when Paul Bird told me he wanted to employ a younger rider for the coming season but I am confident I can still be a title contender."

I have no idea what I will do after this season

Steve Hislop

Hislop expects the competition to be fierce with last year's contenders, Michael Rutter and Sean Emmett among the frontrunners.

"Michael and Sean will be there again this season but I expect John Reynolds, Shane Byrne and Steve Plater to be vying for the top positions too."

Hislop will be partnered by Gary Mason and the pair will begin testing on circuits in Britain and Spain in the near future.

After 20 years in the saddle, the Hawick rider will have earned his retirement from motorcycling but is unsure whether he will remain in the sport.

"I have no idea what I will do after this season.

"I love being involved in motorcycling and the sport is heading in the right direction in Britain but it is becoming more expensive all the time to compete."

See also:

23 Oct 02 | Motorbikes
14 Oct 02 | Motorbikes
29 Sep 02 | Motorbikes
Links to more Motorbikes stories are at the foot of the page.


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