The Alley

Olympic legend Hoy ready for debut

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He was the most successful British Olympian in history, now cyclist Sir Chris Hoy is ready to become the first summer Olympic games gold medalist to compete in the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

After his retirement from the sport as its undisputed sprint king in 2012, Hoy turned his competitive instincts to motorsport where he joined forces with Nissan to debut in the British GT Championship.

hoy_pic_2His performance was fast-tracked by the team which turner Nissan’s GT Academy winning gamers into professional racing drivers.

A podium at Spa-Francorchamps in British GT preceeded his debut in prototype racing last year in the LM P3 class in the European Le Mans Series.

He had always been fastest on the velodrome, but now Hoy showed amazing pace on the race track taking the LM P3 championship with Charlie Robertson.

The competitive spirits which drove the Scotsman from a BMX ace to an Olympic legend are now flowing strongly at the biggest endurance race in the world.

“It’s exactly the same. There’s no difference. The same instinct, the same determination from being a kid, to getting to the Olympics, to now,” Hoy said.

“It’s all the same experience, the same feeling and I think that’s a big reason why I do it. It’s not just the thrill of driving because that is a big part of it – the excitement, the speed and the adrenaline – but the competition is definitely a big part of it too.

“It’s the challenge as well. It’s having that question, ‘can I do this’ and I’ve always enjoyed posing questions to myself during my whole career.

“I don’t know if I can do this but let’s give it a go and let’s give it my best shot. It was the same through my whole cycling career and that’s what it’s been like with the cars too.”

hoy_pic_1Hoy contested the opening two rounds of the European Le Mans Series with Algarve Pro Racing and will continue with the team this weekend with fellow Brit Michael Munneman and Renault-Nissan Alliance young star Andrea Pizzitola.

While his Olympic and World Championship success replied on his explosive sprint capabilities, his motorsport career has gone in the other direction – switching to endurance.

“The similarities are the importance of focusing and not dwelling on the things that can go wrong like the potential for accidents or problems,” Hoy said.

“You only ever think about what you have control over. That’s kind of what I did on the bike as well. The differences would be that you can’t win the race in the first corner but you can definitely lose it.

“It’s about control and understanding when to make your move. It’s such a one big effort on the bike, literally a split second decision and that was it, you either made or you didn’t make it. With the driving you understand that there are moments like that but you also plan for the longer game.

“There are some races where you have to concede a battle and win the war. But you can go over the line, make a mistake and lose the race in one moment. It’s about learning about control because it’s a big part of it I think, being able to think beyond the moment.”

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