International Cycling

Cycling champion Hoy to race at Le Mans

2016-03-31 16:43
Sir Chris Hoy (File)

London - Six-time Olympic cycling champion Chris Hoy will continue his involvement in motorsport by driving in this year's Le Mans 24 hour race, it was announced on Thursday.

The 40-year-old, Britain's most successful Olympian after retiring following two gold medals at London 2012, will drive a Nissan-powered Ligier for the Algarve Pro Racing team in the second tier LM P2 category during the June 18-19 event.

Hoy, who first raced with Nissan in 2014 after retiring from cycling, said he had been fascinated by Le Mans ever since he had first enjoyed a model racing set as a child.

"I remember getting a Scalextric track when I was five or six. One of the cars had headlights on it.

"I remember asking my dad why and he said 'that's for the Le Mans 24 Hour race - they race through the night'.

"I didn't do this to replace my cycling, but in many ways I get to carry on some of the really enjoyable parts of my cycling career into motor sport.

"It's exactly the same feeling you have when you're about to race, doesn't matter whether it's on a bike, in a car or even when I was younger, racing BMXs. There's still that excitement, the nervousness, the adrenaline.

"I never thought I'd feel that again once I retired from cycling - I thought that was the end of that part of my life."

Hoy competed in the British GT motorsport championship with Nissan, the Great Britain Olympic team sponsor, in 2014 after undergoing a driver development course with the Japanese manufacturer.

The Scot secured a podium place at Belgium's Spa track in his debut season and took part in the European Le Mans series in 2015 in the new Nissan-powered LM P3 prototype class.

His team won the title, earning a place at Le Mans, where the car will also be driven by France's Andrea Pizzitola and Britain's Michael Munemann.

"I never thought I'd be on the podium hearing the national anthem again - I thought those days were over," Hoy said after his Spa success.

He added: "I wasn't really surprised at how hard it was. It's like someone saying 'if you can ride a bike, you can win an Olympic gold medal'."

Hoy, who plans to compete in similar events in Britain and Italy ahead of what is still regarded as the world's most prestigious 24-hour motorsport race, said he had yet to decide if Le Mans would mark the summit of his ambitions on four wheels.

"I'm not thinking beyond Le Mans. It's only a matter of weeks away now. I'm not even thinking beyond the start line, I'm just thinking about getting to the start of the race and we'll deal with it from there."

Hoy is not the only British Olympic cycling champion to have switched sports in recent times, with former team-mate Victoria Pendleton becoming a horse-racing jockey and finishing fifth in the Foxhunters Chase - the amateur Gold Cup - over 22 fences at this month's Cheltenham Festival.

Read more on:    le mans  |  cycling

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