Steve Hislop, the reigning British Superbike champion, died yesterday in a helicopter accident in his native Scotland.
Hislop, who was 41, was flying his helicopter alone near Hawick in the Scottish Borders when the aircraft crashed.
The Scot was born in Hawick. Nicknamed "Hizzy" he enjoyed podium finishes in World Superbikes but suffered an appalling accident at Rockingham in 2001 which ended his title hopes and left him with serious leg injuries.
He bounced back to win the domestic Superbike championship last season, but was sacked by his MonsterMob Ducati team two weeks later.
This season proved difficult with Virgin Mobile Yamaha and he parted company in acrimonious circumstances earlier this month.
Born to a racing family, Hislop was only 17 when his father, Sandy, died in his arms from a heart attack aged 43. His elder brother, Garry, was killed in a club race at Silloth in 1982, but Hislop was undeterred and went on to have one of the most successful TT careers in history, winning 11 times and becoming the first rider to set an average lap speed of more than 120mph.
He first won the British Superbike title in 1995, but his attempts to repeat that success were dogged by injuries and team disputes. However, after overcoming a broken neck suffered in a multiple pile-up at Brands Hatch in 2000, Hislop won the British 2002 title at the final round at Donington.
In his autobiography, Hislop wrote: "Racing has been a mixed blessing for me. On the one hand it's allowed me to travel the world and ride exotic motorcycles. But on the other it's taken my brother and many friends from me and it's caused me more physical pain than I could ever have thought possible."
Hislop's death is the fourth tragedy to befall the sport this year, following Barry Sheene (cancer), Daijiro Kato (MotoGP crash) and David Jefferies (TT crash).