Reigning British Superbike champion Steve Hislop has declared that the 2003 season, where he will defend his crown on a Yamaha R1, will almost certainly be his last year racing.

MonsterMob Ducati surprisingly sacked the 41 year old - despite winning the championship - due to his age, and the Scotsman admitted that it's difficult to get backing for the upcoming season even with the #1 plate.

"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," Hislop told BBC Sport Online.

Hizzy has built up a legendary reputation around the fearsome Isle of Man circuit, claiming 11 race victories, but although the event made him a hero among motorcycle fans, he feels it may have cost his career dear.

"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," he declared. "I regret that I never competed for a full season at world level, either in Grands Prix or in World Superbikes."

Having turned down a MotoGP ride on the all-new Harris WCM machine for 2003, Hislop stated that he hopes to win races in the ultra-competitive British series on his new four-cylinder, but thinks Ducati riders could set the pace.

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

Turning to the thought of his retirement, Hislop confessed that he not sure what he'll do after 20 years of competition.

"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," Hislop concluded.



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