Just when you thought Sir Chris Hoy had finished with speed, Britain’s most successful Olympian has announced a new career on four wheels with the aim of competing in the “Olympics of motorsport” in just two years.
When his former team-mates roll on to the boards of a Brazilian velodrome at Rio 2016, the six-time track cycling gold medalist is intending to contest the Le Mans 24-hour race.
Hoy will be swapping the advice of British Cycling coaches Shane Sutton, Jan Van Eijden and Iain Dyer for the expert tuition of Nissan’s advanced driver development programme, which the Japanese car giant’s bosses say will ‘fast-track’ Hoy’s ‘evolution into top-level motorsport’.
The Scott has impressed Nissan chiefs with his early forays into club level motorsport and will drive a Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3 car in the 2014 British GT Championship.
“The ultimate goal of the programme will be to get Sir Chris back on the podium and progress to competing with Nissan in 2016 at the Le Mans 24 Hours – the world’s most famous endurance race,” a Nissan spokesman said.
Nissan already had a relationship with Hoy – who sealed his place among the greats of British sport by winning his fifth and sixth gold medals on the boards of London’s Olympic Velodrome at the 2012 Summer Games – as a backer for Team GB and ParalympicsGB programmes.
“When we sat down to discuss the relationship, we talked about how we could make things a two-way street,” Hoy said. “When I learned what had been achieved through Nissan’s Driver Development Programme I was keen to take my enthusiasm for motorsport to the next level.
“This won’t be easy – but I could not turn down the chance to give it a go. My ultimate ambition is to race at Le Mans. That is the dream, but I’m taking this one step at a time.”
Hoy will take a seat alongside racing driver Alex Buncombe in the RJN Motorsport Nissan Team. He will drive a Nissan GT-R NISMO car, designed for racing in the GT3 classification.
He will cut his teeth in the 2014 British GT Championship, and is expected to compete in all seven rounds. The series begins next weekend, on the Easter bank holiday (April 19 to 21), at Oulton Park, Cheshire. Hoy will race as a ‘bronze’ driver – a new experience for a man used to gold.
“This makes perfect sense to us,” said Nissan’s Director of Global Motorsport, Darren Cox. “The Le Mans 24 Hours is the Olympics of motorsport so who better to take on an epic challenge such as this.”