Sir Chris Hoy will drive for Nissan in the 2016 Le Mans 24 Hours race – fulfilling a three-year accelerated driver training programme to convert him from multiple Olympic gold medalist to racing driver.
Described as by Hoy as the pinnacle, he says that “to get the news that I have the seat for Le Mans is amazing. I still can’t quite believe it.
“It’s exciting but there are a lot of steps to take between now and then so I’m trying to focus on the short-term. I’m also incredibly excited that I’m going to be starting on the same grid as all these legendary drivers.”
The news was revealed at a special event in London’s O2 Arena where it was confirmed that Hoy will become the first-ever summer Olympic medalist to race in the Le Mans 24 Hours event. It comes three years after Hoy retired from cycling and started to focus on motorsport, initially as a hobby.
Nissan soon took him under its wing: it entered Hoy into the 2014 British GT Championship in a Nissan GT-R Nismo GT3, before graduating him to the 2015 European Le Mans Series in a Nissan-powered Team LNT Ginetta.
With some success: Hoy and co-driver Charlie Robertson win the 2015 LMP3 driver’s title.
For 2016, Hoy will be driving with French racer Andre Pizzitola and Brit Michael Munemann, in a Nissan-powered Algarve Pro Racing Ligier JS P2 (pictured below). As well as the Le Mans 24 Hours on 18-19 June, the trip will also race at the opening two rounds of the European Le Mans Series, at Silverstone on 16 April and Imola on 15 May.
Sir Chris Hoy: from two wheels to four
An eleven-time world champion, Sir Chris Hoy has six gold medals and, at the London 2012 Olympics, became the most successful British Olympian ever. He’s also the most successful Olympic cyclist.
“The time from my racing debut to getting a Le Mans drive has been short,” he admitted, “but many GT Academy athletes have done the journey even quicker. It’s incredible what can be achieved with the right support and the right people around you,” Hoy said.
“I’ve been very lucky to have that. I’ve had some great driver coaching, some great advice from the drivers themselves and I’ve had access to the simulator.
“The biggest thing in my motorsports career is Nissan has continued to provide new challenges for me. Just as I was coming to grips with the GT-R NISMO GT3, I was promoted straight away to the LM P3 prototype.
Surprisingly, he reckons the most straightforward step up is actually entering Le Mans. “The LM P2 car I’m going to race at Le Mans is the easiest and most intuitive car I’ve ever driven.”