Olympic cycling legend Sir Chris Hoy's motorsport dreams of competing in the world's most famous endurance race will become reality this June when Nissan powers the six-time Gold Medalist at the Le Mans 24 Hour.
The eleven-time world champion and most decorated Olympic cyclist of all time will become the first-ever Summer Olympic Medalist to compete in the classic French endurance race.
"In motorsports terms, it's everything," said Hoy. "The 24 Hours of Le Mans is the pinnacle for me. It's what I've been working for over the past three years. 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."
After becoming the most successful British Olympian ever in 2012 in London, Hoy retired from cycling the following year and began to focus on his "hobby" behind the wheel.
Linking its role as a Team GB Olympic sponsor, Nissan first entered Hoy in the British GT Championship in 2014 in a Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3. It has put him through its intensive driver development program created to turn graduates from the successful GT Academy "gamer to racer" program into professional drivers.
Hoy scored a podium in his debut season and graduated to the European Le Mans Series last year in the new Nissan-powered LM P3 prototype class.
Hoy scored victories in three of the first four races with Team LNT in a Nissan-powered Ginetta with co-driver Charlie Robertson to clinch the LM P3 driver's title.
This year, Hoy will drive with Algarve Pro Racing on board a Nissan-powered Ligier JS P2 chassis at Le Mans and at the opening two rounds of the European Le Mans Series. He will be teamed with Renault-Nissan Alliance athlete, Frenchman, Andrea Pizzitola and 2015-16 Asian Le Mans Series runner-up, Brit Michael Munemann.
"The time from my racing debut to getting a Le Mans drive has been short but many GT Academy athletes have done the journey even quicker," said Hoy. "It's incredible what can be achieved with the right support and the right people around you. 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. All the same support the GT Academy drivers have. 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. It has been a continued series of new challenges. But the LM P2 car I'm going to race at Le Mans is the easiest and most intuitive car I've ever driven."
Sir Chris Hoy Fast Facts
Hoy's rapid transition from two-wheel pedal-powered champion to four-wheel horsepower champion originally began in 2008 at a track day event. The Scot made his race debut in 2013 in the Radical SR1 Cup in the UK and joined forces with Nissan for the first time in 2014.
Hoy got the chance to test at the home of the Le Mans 24 Hour, the Circuit de la Sarthe, last July when the LM P3 class took part in the pre-Le Mans test day.
Only prototypes from the LM P1 and LM P2 class compete in the 24-hour event itself and Hoy will now take another important step in his motorsport career to not only race at Le Mans this June but also contest opening two rounds of the European Le Mans Series at Silverstone in April and at the Imola circuit in Italy in May.
Nissan is an official automotive partner for this year's Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in August and Nissan UK is an official partner for Team GB and ParalympicsGB.
After racing at Le Mans for the first time in June, Hoy will turn his attention to the Rio Olympics where he will play a mentoring role for British athletes as one of eight "Team GB Greats."
Nissan has powered the LM P2 class-winning car at Le Mans in four of the past five years including the past three years in succession.
Remarkably, Nissan and NISMO will power 21 of the 60 entries for this year's Le Mans 24 Hour – an incredible 35 percent of the field.
Hoy follows in the footsteps of eight former Olympians who have raced at Le Mans. French alpine skier Henri Oreiller is the only athlete in history with an Olympic Gold Medal (1948 Winter Olympics Men's Downhill and Men's Combined Gold) and a race start at Le Mans to his credit (1962).
First held in 1923, the Le Mans 24 Hour is the pinnacle event in international sportscar racing with 60 cars spread over four classes doing battle over the 13.629 km (8.469 mi) course that combines public roads with a section of dedicated race track.
Hailed by National Geographic Magazine as the world's best sporting event (beating the Olympic Games and World Cup football), Le Mans attracts more than 245,000 fans each year and is broadcast in 190 countries by 30 TV networks with a potential audience in excess of 700 million.
Upcoming NISMO Schedule
European Le Mans Series, Silverstone, England
European Le Mans Series, Imola, Italy
24 Hours of Le Mans Test Day
24 Hours of Le Mans