The road-racing expertise of Steve Hislop proved a telling factor in a convincing double win at the ninth round of the British Superbike championship, as the veteran Scottish rider masterfully negotiated the narrow and twisty circuit here to stretch his title lead to 20 points.
Hislop, who made his name on the similarly tight lines of Isle of Man with 11 TT titles, has found peak short circuit form at the age of 38. Should he hold off the determined challenge of championship protagonist John Reynolds, the Scottish rider expects a domestic championship win to provide the springboard to a more profitable twilight to his career.
Offers to race in America, as well as the possibility that his MonsterMob team could follow the lead set by Neil Hodgson's GSE outfit in using the British title to launch a World Superbike challenge, are being considered. With four rounds remaining, however, the first part of that equation is far from complete.
This season Hislop and Reynolds have conducted an almost exclusive battle at the head of the field. That status quo was disrupted when, with Reve Red Bull rider Reynolds struggling with the grip provided by his tyre in hot race one conditions, James Haydon muscled in on the leading pair.
Hislop, who capitalised on pole position to lead throughout, greeted the Yamaha rider's rare second-placing enthusiastically, for he is aware, following a disappointing previous round at Knockhill, that such domination can be a transient commodity.
"James helped me out a little bit as far as the points go – and that's what I need. John ran me a lot tighter in the second race but, while the pressure was on, I managed to break away, although I was expecting a last lap challenge," he said.
Hislop's ability to cope with the tensions of a championship finale has been called into question in the past, although Reynolds voluntarily distanced himself from comments published earlier in the campaign that he expected his rival to crack. Having been unable to make an impression on race two, after holding the briefest of leads through turn one, Reynolds' respect for his fellow Ducati rider was far from grudging.
"Steve's a flipping legend round here. You can see why he rides the Isle of Man so fast because this circuit is also very tight. At least in the second race I was racing rather than just riding round. He had the edge on me this weekend, just as I had on him at the last round," admitted Reynolds.Reuse content