Posted: 27 Dec 2013
Was this the greatest TT race ever? The Mountain Course on the Isle of Man has been the setting for some amazing contests but few, if any, can have been better than the 1992 Senior in which Steve Hislop powered the “white-charger” Norton to victory in an epic contest with Carl Fogarty decided at lap and race record speeds.
Hislop, the proud Scot, ruled supreme at the end of a captivating, record breaking event over the torturous six laps as he took the victory despite running on a shoe-string budget and racing with the backing of a longtime supporter who found sponsorship through Abus locks.
The man from Hawick, who made his home on the Island was a real sporting all-rounder, winning the short circuit British 250cc crown and then twice the Superbike Championship as well as recording 11 victories at the TT. The “flying haggis” was described by some as a “flawed genius,” but when everything clicked into place he was one of the fastest, if not the fastest, of his era to ride a motorcycle.
Anyone doubting that, then think on this. He was the first rider to clock a 120mph average speed lap at the TT and a decade on from his remarkable “white-charger” winning ride he confounded the sport by shattering the outright lap record at Donington Park running with a time of 1m 31.45s aboard a BSB specification Ducati, better than the times recorded by the MotoGP elite, Valentino Rossi et al.
This was Hislop, the man who in 1992 had finished second to Phillip McCallen in the opener to the festival, the TTF1 race. The Ulsterman was back for more as were Joey and Robert Dunlop and Fogarty riding the Loctite Yamaha. The opening lap was a scorcher with Hislop leading by a little over a second from Fogarty while Robert Dunlop on a Norton was only a further couple of seconds, all three averaging over 121mph.
Hislop doubled his lead going into the first round of pit-stops but Fogarty was full of fight – he wanted the victory and it showed as he reeled in the Flying Scot to take a one second lead at half distance. Hislop responded, breaking the record, and amazingly pulling a lead of over seven seconds at two thirds distance.
Fogarty trimmed two seconds off him on the fifth lap and then went for broke on the last dash over Snaefell, smashing the lap record again at an average speed of 123.61mph but Hislop was all but matching him, barely a second off that scorching pace, as he took the victory by 4.4 seconds. He had given Norton their first victory in the Senior since 1961 – a milestone success for him and the marque.
Hislop signed off from TT with a “big-bike” winning double in 1994 ahead of a move into the British Superbike series and title success in 1995. After that, he changed teams with varying degrees of success, not to mention injury along the way. He was involved in one of the most spectacular crashes ever scene at Brands Hatch as his bike cart-wheeled four times, some 20 feet in the air at Paddock Hill. He suffered a broken neck, though at the time he did not know that, trying to race within days, prior to a scan showing the problem.
He bounced back, finishing as runner-up in 2001, regaining the BSB title the following year but it was not enough to keep his ride for 2003 – Hislop briefly rode Yamaha but was shown the door and had just finalised a deal to resume racing in August of that year. But the man who had defied death in horrific crashes while racing, succumbed to injuries sustained when the helicopter he was flying crashed near to his Hawick home.