Carl Fogarty has led the tributes to former rival - and friend - Steve Hislop, who died yesterday in a helicopter crash.

The 41-year-old Scot was flying near the Scottish Borders, on his way to visit friends, just a few weeks after losing his Virgin Yamaha ride in the British Superbike championship - and shortly before his planned comeback with the ETI Ducati team.

"Steve was my main rival when I raced on the road circuit for three or four years and we were quite good mates in the late 80s and early 90s," began Foggy. "We had some great battles and I think our race in 1992, when Steve won the Senior TT and I broke the lap record, will go down as the best TT race in history.

"But then our careers took different paths. He stayed in Britain while I bought my own bike so that I compete in the world championship," added Carl. "Steve could have won the TT every year but, to give him credit, he quit road racing to concentrate on the short circuits. And he was probably the oldest ever British Superbike champion at 40, which is a great achievement in such a competitive series.

"I spoke to him about coming to ride for my team a couple of years ago, as he was one of the best guys I know at setting a bike up, something I realized when he was my team-mate in the Suzuka Eight-hour race in Japan," revealed the four-times World Superbike champion. "His death is a tragedy and our thoughts go out to his family and friends."

Foggy Petronas rider James Haydon was equally shocked at the loss of such a talented rider.

"I have raced with Steve for a number of years and knew him quite well. He was a fantastic talent, there are no two ways about it," said Haydon. "On his day he was extremely quick, and that's compared to anyone in the world. And he also had a wicked riding style, so smooth and neat and effortless. He was also a nice guy - always quick with a smile and a laugh. My condolences go to all those who loved him. These things are never anything but tragic."



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