Sir Chris Hoy sets sights on Le Mans 24-hour race

Olympian Sir Chris Hoy has announced that he will complete a full season driving for Nissan. Picture: Getty
Olympian Sir Chris Hoy has announced that he will complete a full season driving for Nissan. Picture: Getty
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HIS renowned endurance brought him six Olympic gold medals and made him one of Scotland’s greatest sportsmen.

Now Sir Chris Hoy is planning to swap two wheels for four when he competes in the world-famous Le Mans 24-hour endurance race in 2016.

The 38-year-old – Britain’s most-decorated Olympian – has won 11 world titles throughout his career.

He said he hopes to transfer that success to the track as he pursues a career in high-speed motorsport.

Sir Chris announced his retirement from competitive cycling in April 2013 and has ruled himself out of the Glasgow Commonwealth Games later this summer.

But he is now preparing to compete in the 2014 British GT Championship, having already been involved in a number of track races this year.

He agreed to a deal with Nissan to drive the GT3 vehicle and said his ambitions on the track are high as he aims for Le Mans event in two years.

Sir Chris said: “It’s the start of a new journey for me. It might sound ridiculous right now, but my ambition in motorsport is to compete at Le Mans in the 24-hour race.

“Who knows if that’s even remotely possible, but that’s my dream. I’m in the right place to do it.

“There are fantastic people here who have the right experience, so if I can do what they tell me to do, listen to them and develop, then it may not be a ridiculous dream.

“At the moment, though, I’m just thinking about British GT and we’ll see how this season goes.”

Sir Chris is a Nissan ambassador, as part of the group’s sponsorship of the British Olympic Association and British Paralympic Association.

He added: “I can’t wait to get out there and go racing, competing against other drivers. It’s one thing taking the car out on an empty track, but the adrenalin and atmosphere of a race will be amazing. I really can’t wait.”

The 24 Hours of Le Mans is the world’s oldest active endurance race in motor sport.

Held annually since 1923, the race tests both the drivers’ ability and the durability of their cars as they compete over the Circuit de la Sarthe course.

The teams are made up of three drivers who take part in two-hour stints behind the wheel. The longest race to date has been 3,360 miles, in 2010 – 18 times longer than a Formula One Grand Prix.

The race is dangerous and has seen a number of fatal crashes, the most recent coming in 2013 when Danish driver Allan Simonsen was involved in an accident at the very beginning of the competition.

The 2014 event will see the return of Porsche, the most successful team in Le Mans history, which is hoping to end the recent dominance of its rival German manufacturer, Audi.

Sir Chris said his passion for motor racing, and in particular Le Mans, started at a very young age.

He said he was intrigued by the idea that some races could go both day and night.

He said: “I had a Scalextric set when I was a wee boy.

“I didn’t know why some of the race cars had lights that came on and some didn’t, then my dad explained it was for the Le Mans 24 Hours as they race day and night for the whole 24 hours.

“I remember thinking then, that sounds pretty special, but never dreamt I would get the opportunity to start a motor racing career.

“It’s still a long way off, but who knows?”

Sir Chris added that his determination to win has not waned since his retirement from cycling, but he is realistic about his new career.

He said: “Whether I’m racing bikes, racing cars, playing Monopoly, I’m always trying to win.

“I’m realistic with my ambitions. I’m realistic about the fact I’m very much a novice, so I’m not expecting to win immediately, but in every race I enter I’m trying to be the best that I can be and long term that will be to try to win.”

Sir Chris’ first race takes place over Easter weekend at Cheshire’s Oulton Park circuit.