Steve Hislop in his own words

Published: 12 August 2001

Steve Hislop talked to fans in the VIP Lounge of our Talk Bikes section of the site on Thursday, August 16.

Here’s a full transcript of the conversation. " MCN " is used to indicated a question from an MCN user.

MCN: I've started doing some track days and done all the four levels of the California Superbike School, but what i feel is holding me up is my confidence on really fast turns, i.e. over 70mph, even when i know that my bike and tyres etc can make it. Are there any techniques you use to help your confidence and gear yourself up for taking the faster corners?

SteveHislop: That’s a hard one to explain really. It’s quite hard for guys that come from road riding to gear themselves up for that what I do, just tends to come naturally for me. It is a confidence thing, it’s just building it up and ye cannae arrive in the corner too quick cos then you’ll be slow out of it. The key is just to build up and up to the level that you feel safe.

MCN: I read in the MCN Sport interview that you would like to move into WSB or the AMA series next year. Do you see yourself continuing with the MonsterMob team, or seeking a ride elsewhere? Do you think you can still be riding out in front week in, week out in a more competitive series?

SteveHislop: It’s been a lifetime dream to ride a world season. I’ve had a long career and some people may say I’m past my sell-by date but I’m riding as fast as ever and the chance to do a WSB season would be great and it would be great to do it with the MonsterMob team. It's a such a happy little team and there are so many changes coming with BSB, that (team boss) Paul has considered moving to WSB but business is business and if I get a good offer somewhere else then I`ll have to decide Regarding America, Ducati were crying out for a winner and it’s half the length of the BSB championship and the financial rewards are far, far greater salary wise. The problem is running at US level it might be a problem to learn the circuits quickly.

Troy Bayliss went out there and was very quick before the WSB call up. But I`m riding well, and it'd be nice to cap my career in WSB, and I think on the right equipment I could be top six easy and at the rounds I`ve entered, I`ve shown I can do it easy

MCN: How much of a disadvantage is it not having a teammate...(if any)

SteveHislop: The only time it was a disadvantage... was at Knockihll for example, Sean Emmett did a good job of holding me up to let John Reynolds get away and it would be nice to have another guy on my side but it's a question of finance and to run the two bikes I have costs a fortune with tyres and engine parts and it would dilute the whole team by running a second rider, you'd have to stretch the engines further etc and I’m technically minded so I don't need help with the set-up, and it's working fine as it is.

MCN: JR wore the George Cross on his sliders. Why didn't you wear Saltires on yours for your home crowd?

SteveHislop: Purely because…I`m sponsored by a slider company. I could have worn St Andrews Crosses....but I actually have my own Hizzy sliders I`m proud to be Scottish, but I don’t go too far, with the flag everywhere, but there is one next to my name on my screen. The blue and white clashes too much with the colours of the bike!

MCN: As a patriotic Scot and a big fan of yours, I have been trying to find a set of your famous Hizzy sliders, but I can't find them anywhere. Where can I obtain a set of your trademark sliders?

SteveHislop: Motrack is a big distributor who supply the dealers, so dealers should be able to get them. I`ve seen them in a lot of catalogues. (Try the MCN Directory!)

MCN: How the hell did you manage to stay on the bike on Sunday when you came off the track through the kitty litter etc..... just after Duffus? I thought you were a gonner

SteveHislop: That was just pure luck at the end of the day, there wasn't just the gravel trap it was 120-130 miles an hour when I came off. It was a case of ‘don't touch the brakes’ and keep it straight but because there was a gradient there it was real scary but my motocrossing with Neil Hodgson over the winters came into play there.

MCN: Schwantz said on mcn's site this week that he thinks the most important skill to riding at grand prix level is setting up the chassis, and that superbike guys will still struggle on 4-strokes compared to 2-stroke guys because of it. what do you think, especially as you are rated as a supreme chassis set-up guy (spesh compared to some1 like bayliss)

SteveHislop: I think Kevin can have his own opinion. Foggy was never known as a great technician but Edwards and people like that know how to set bikes up. Walker struggled, but that was more down to the tight guidelines laid down by Honda so it backfired on him a little but I generally don't think most of the guys would struggle at all

MCN: Do u think Foggy should race again

SteveHislop: He's still young enough. I mean he’s still younger than me but if you take any time off, it’s hard to get back and he’ll find it hard to get back to the level he was at but he’s now in a position where...financially...he doesn't need to race. He can live life with the wife and kids now.

MCN: How will he see where he is going with his head so far up his own ar**

SteveHislop: Nice one. He comes across as very obnoxious but it's that type of personality that made him a champion. He was a good friend of mine when we were team-mates at Honda and he could be an annoying little shit at times But, it did work for him and now he's got older he has mellowed but he still thinks he's the best thing since sliced bread..

MCN: Will you do the Island again if the big money is there?

SteveHislop: No This year, after the long break with the broken neck, we did discuss it .Paul Bird and I discussed it when I signed with the team as we thought it would be a good earner for the team but when it came closer to the entry date I started to think why I`d stopped in the first place and it's the scare factor of things like the lightweight racing wheels collapsing on you.

It was a great event, and I used to really enjoy it but I get enjoyment from the short circuits and I don't need it in my life anymore.

MCN: Do you think the introduction of 1000cc 4-cylinder machines will break the strong hold the twins have held for years

SteveHislop: Not really. The BSB rules for next year, are 1000cc supersport tuned, slicks, chassis modifications so they will be quick but the nimbleness of a superbike chassis will still shine through and that's the general feeling of most of the riders around at the moment. There are a few tracks where the 1000cc bikes will have the legs but they are still just a little too bulky but it's an introduction to the rules we do need because 750s are no longer competitive

MCN: What’s your favourite circuit?

SteveHislop: In the UK, Oulton Park....and Donington as well. Worldwide, Suzuka..I`ve competed there a few times and it's just a fantastic circuit so many twists and turns it's just great

MCN: What do you and the other riders think of the facilities for spectators at the tracks, especially Donington? Would you and the other riders pay to put up with shoddy facilities?

SteveHislop: No....I know the spectators have a bad do, really the likes of Cadwell, still living in 20s and 30s really the paddock is no longer suitable but this older circuits still produce some of the best racing the greedy promoters need to put some gate fees back into the facilities but this has been going on for as long as I can remember motorcycle fans are still the bread and butter fans its just a shame they get neglected by the promoters but at the end of the day, we still have to pay to put on the show F1, GPs, everyone else seems to be on big contracts but in BSB, the promoters seem to making all the money they have our pants down basically.

MCN: If you and JR ends up with the same points at the end of the championship...and the decider is a punch up in the paddock ...who would win?

SteveHislop:Erm. I`m a little bit taller than John, so i could punch down on him but he's stockier so he'd take some knocking over But I`m too close friends with him really which is a problem, cos I really need to hate him to beat him but we have a lot of mutual respect for each other

MCN: what's the maddest thing you've ever read about yourself in magazines or heard on TV?

SteveHislop: There's not a certain point. but generally the PR side of my career everyone thinks i`m like a cheap watch and I fall apart half way through each season "he's a bit hot and cold" etc so this year i`m determined to hold it together and get the no 1 plate to prove them wrong it's years and years of getting all this stick..

MCN: What’s your feeling towards Rockingham?

SteveHislop: I haven't seen the track yet, so i can't really comment but by all accounts, someones taken 50 or 60 million, built a mega circuit and haven't really consulted cars, or bikes, or anything i`m led to believe that even on the oval the cars have had to gear down so it's been a bit of the flop We've got an official test soon and it'll be a rider decision that day as to whether or not it goes ahead it's one of those cases where someone has a lot of money, and they've decided to build a circuit without consulting anyone

MCN: For a relatively new team to BSB, Monstermob Ducati have proved themselves to be a very professional team, and have done a great job in taking a bike new to them and getting it reliable and competitive. Does MM have any aspirations to go to WSB next year? and if so, will you be going with them?

SteveHislop: Well, as I said earlier....yes if MonsterMob decide to stay, and the salary etc are all geared up for me but if the team goes to WSB then I`m going with them If I get the number one plate this year, then go to WSB it'll be the third year that there won't be a title defence Troy left, Neil left and then me but I would quite like to stay and defend it

MCN: i read recently you like the idea of doing something like WSB next year, with you as the 'top' man in the team and helping a younger guy along...who would you most like to help, in terms of who u think has the most talent and so on

SteveHislop: Well, I`m actually quite keen on Shane Byrne he's really impressed me this year and when you speak to him he listens and learns he's lost his crasher tag and impressed many people on the Suzuki He's a good looking, up and coming lad and I think he'd make a good team-mate..

MCN: When will Haydon stop falling off?

SteveHislop: oooooooooooh. I don't know he had another one last night at Cadwell testing It's a shame He's been racing for ten or eleven years and doesn't seem to have learned But he never seems to hurt himself He doesn't seem to learn that teams just can't afford it But he never crasher according to him...it's always someone elses fault

MCN: Was the Emmett move on you at Thruxton legitimate in your view?

SteveHislop: Errrr, yeah it was ok We were all trying to get the rostrum slot there I went for the inside, and kind of slithered up there and Sean kept leaning on me and then he got me in the chicane and I lost another 2 or 3 places cos I lost drive for the line but that's racing!

MCN: what do you think is missing with new British riders

SteveHislop: There's definitely, a lack of talent and depth at the moment I think this is maybe where the new rules for the superbikes will help cos it will weed out some of the older privateer guys and it'll bring in more superstock youngsters cos there seems to be noone coming through the best young rider at the moment in the UK is Casey Stoner and he's an Aussie there's just noone in that same sort of league, even though the bike Casey's on is an old shed

MCN: At Knockhill, the grid was down to 14 bikes. Allowing for the travelling distance, do you see a continuing demise (v Superstock/sport which both had packed grids)?

SteveHislop: I think a lot of the teams ....it was down to the distance and this is the sad problem we have it's just so expensive for tyres etc and they say the 1000s next year will be better but you'll still have the tuning, shocks, slicks etc, so it won't be much cheaper but I hope that the grid doesn't dwindle any more it's a poor show

MCN: peaking of Knockhill, how could they realistically improve the circuit? it was my first BSB attendance and I can see why you might not like the place, it does look a bit toy town. Would a big extension of a mile or so do it or do they need to start again?

SteveHislop: yeah they basically need to extend it and get some more flowing corners where you could ride round, or under somebody 3 quarters of a mile extra would do I think they're got the land to do it but it's built on soft soggy ground and it's moved and sunk with the ground so it's all off camber etc but it would need to be re-surfaced, and have more flowing corners cos it's too much of a stop-start..

MCN: Would you switch to a 1000 now you been on the Duke?

SteveHislop: No, because I`ve tested R1s, a lot of tyre testing and they are so bulky compared to an R7 superbike so compared to the Ducati I wouldn't like a gsxr1000 or R1 no matter how well it was tuned.

MCN: can you see yourself running a team in a few years?

SteveHislop: Yeah, I don't know about the frontline, facing up to the sponsors I`ve never been much of a brown noser but something like a technical coordinator making sure that they ahve the spares etc or somewhere in the link between the rider and the mechanics etc cos i don't want to do the commercial bit, but somewhere technical cos i still love to try to find the perfect set up.

MCN: Why have you decided on the yellow helmet?

SteveHislop: Well, I always had my traditional pink lids for year but last year when I raced for Virgin it just looked shit against all the red I did consider going fluorescent red but marra Brown had that first so my next choice was bright yellow and because this year we're still on a red bike the yellow really stands out and the rep is quite popular

MCN: What was the real story behind the lack of a showing at Brands WSB

SteveHislop: Basically, we had a good set up from the June BSB round and we thought we wouldn't need to do much mileage and long and short of it is the team approached it wrong engine wise the weather was 20 degrees hotter and we struggled to get the time to find a race set up for chassis and engine etc on the sticky qualifying rubber it was fine for one lap but not on the race tyres..

MCN: what do you get up to in the off season?

SteveHislop: Doing a lot of training specially with Neil Hodgson now he lives on the island moto crossing two or three times a week plus mountain biking and going to the gym on my own a holiday a good few nights on the piss and trying to spend some good time with my kids.

MCN: Whats in your schedule this week?

SteveHislop: I tested at Cadwell last night which was a very successful test definitely needed cos i didn't race there last year i`m staying at a friends house today and tomorrow so just doing a bit of shopping and I`ve just decorated my house and I`m looking for some knick kancks and then i`m doing two dealer events over the next couple of days before flying home to the Isle Of Man to see the kids before Cadwell and try to do some more decorating I`m nearly finished with it I`ve done nothing but paint and decorate all season

MCN: your wee boy Aaron... he must be about four now... do you think you'll see if he likes the look of baby motocross bikes and so on, or steer him well clear of it all?

SteveHislop: I`m trying to steer then away from it at the moment he's a cracking little footballer and he could make better and easier money in the football direction however,living in the Isle Of Man he'll have the TT etc implanted in his head so we'll have to wait and see and Connor will probably have an interest in bikes as well

MCN: Who is the quickest rider you've ever raced against?

SteveHislop: I would have to say, Michael Doohan I rode Suzaka 8 hours and in 91 Foggy and myself raced an rvf to third place behing gardner and doohan and magee and chandler and in the wet, there was one session where I hung onto Doohan for about 40 minutes int he wet I felt fantastic on top of the world He must have been having an off day!

MCN: You mean Doohan kicked Foggy’s arse?

SteveHislop: yeah Foggy, actually, that year, wasn't all that happy riding at Suzuka cos Neil Tuxworth told me that I was starting the race cos Foggy had crashed twice starting the race in the last two years so he spat the dummy even though I was slightly the faster rider, and the faster rider always starts the race and he was spewing but it was still a good result for third place and it was one time when I really felt I had one up on Carl cos he was just a bit off-song

MCN: What do you ride for a road bike (if you can be arsed with it at all)?

SteveHislop: Not really rode much for a few years apart from the odd road test but me and hodgson tend to use xr400 bikes for a while so most of my miles were on nobbly tyres but now they aren't road legal bikes You tend to find most racers go and play int he mud because most riders on the road get a speed buzz but we get that at work We don't need the speed People int he office need it on a weekend, but i`d rather get dirty

MCN: What’s your favourite bike you’ve ever ridden on the roads?

SteveHislop: Years ago, just towards the end of my mechanics job, as an all round good bike I used a VFR750 It was fast, nimble and could carry a pillion well now, i don't really know i did the worlds fastest road bike test with Hodsgon, Jeffries, Keith Heuwen etc and the R1 was the best bike but I kind of fell in love with the Hayabusa if I was going to do some serious miles, maybe with a pillion and by heck, could it go!

Dpc: That was my bike that was (Hizzy mutters something about how much abuse it got which is best kept from dpc).

MCN: have you any inside news on what is happening with Chris Walker and getting a ride anywhere?

SteveHislop: The only thing I know is that Dorna pay his salary and he's contracted to them and he can't ride BSB superbikes etc short-term and I think they are trying to get him into a position to be involved on a test basis with 4 stroke GP teams u ran a story this week on Harris building a chassis for the Sauber engine and GPs may be coming to be like F1 with engine suppliers and chassis suppliers and that could open the door to a lot more people and teams to enter the sport and I think Dorna are trying to get him into a position like that but I haven't spoken to him in a while so i know just about the same as what you read I kind of feel sorry for him really

MCN: Whats your dearest memory of Joey?

SteveHislop: I was his semi-teammate at Honda for about four years or so and I never got more than about a mumbled bunch of words from him the whole time but at the same time we had some fantastic racing He was just so down to earth but he still showed a fair turn of speed

MCN: which beans do you like better HP or HEINZ on your toast

SteveHislop: Heinz I think mainly for the kids i`m not a big bean fanatic myself

MCN: Who is your all-time greatest idol from bike racing, any era allowed, and also which bike would you most like to have ridden? Honda V5s included

SteveHislop: When I was growing up and getting interested in bikes. Freddie Spencer was my hero when he came from America and dominated GPs what a turn around when Freddie Spencer stopped me getting on a factory Ducati superbike for the Sentl and Sugo rounds and Spencer got it because of who he was and that he was from America and he rode like an old woman and that was probably my best wsb team shot and I would love to have ridden an NSR500...around 94-95 time I rode a Yamaha, Harris and a Roc I actually rode Spencer’s bike for a while but I would love to have had a go on the Honda just to have compared it