Swapping his two-wheels for four, Sir Chris Hoy says not in his wildest dreams did he think he’d be a racing driver.
Sun Motors caught up with the Olympic hero in Le Mans as he aims to compete in next year’s 24-hour race.
How have you gone from cycling to motor racing?
I was a motorsport fan who used to do track days three or four times a year in my road car. I never thought I’d get to this stage but I was doing a documentary about Colin Mcrae in 2012 and someone asked me if I’d be interested in racing. Nissan’s Olympic partnership was helpful to me too; I came on board with them because of that. I told them I was looking to get into motorsport and they asked if I’d fancy driving at Le Mans and that was it.
Was it always going to be Nissan you’d drive for?
Yeah but I didn’t really think racing was a realistic goal. It’s not just the finances; you need the knowledge and coaching, which luckily Nissan has. They’re used to bringing through novice drivers through their (Playstation) GT Academy programme so I can fit in to the process pretty well. They’ve been very helpful to me and hopefully I’ll be ready to compete next year.
Yes! They’re all pro drivers now but it wasn’t long ago they were students playing video games in their bedrooms, now they’re teaching me things
If you weren’t in motorsport, what would you be doing?
Nothing really! Racing isn’t replacing anything it’s an addition to what I would be doing anyway. Most of my time is spent on my bike business, designing, making and testing. Cycling is still about half of my life, the motorsport has been wedged in. The bike business is the biggest thing at the moment – that’s my day job. The racing is my weekend passion.
This wasn’t part of the plan, no. I’d planned just to make bikes. I’d say racing was a dream come true but it was such an unrealistic goal that I didn’t even dream about it! I was just a fan and now I’m doing it. It’s like a kid watching the FA Cup final and then getting to play in one at Wembley. It’s pretty cool.
The buzz of driving, does it compare to winning Olympic gold?
No, you can’t compare them. Winning Olympic gold isn’t just about winning a medal it’s about everything that goes into that and dedicating your life for that one moment. When you’re driving you’re doing it more for the buzz of it really, it is competitive but it’s also a huge amount of fun. When you’re racing, you’re always learning how to extract the last one or two per cent out of the car. Anyone can get in a car and drive it but professional driving is so much different. Cycling and driving are so different you can’t compare them. Winning Olympic gold is like a different part of my life now.
As an Olympian do you have a burning desire to compete?
I’m not sure, I don’t think I’d be competing in something else if I wasn’t doing this. I’ve put that to bed in terms of what I’ve achieved as a cyclist. I’m racing because it’s a passion of mine. I wouldn’t be doing triathlons or anything if I wasn’t doing this. I’m doing it because I want to not because I need to, I was so pleased with my Olympic career, and so lucky to have ended on a high that I’m content that I got everything out of it.
Was it easy retiring or were you constantly thinking of doing one more Olympic games?
My body wasn’t holding up anymore and it was taking longer to recover from injuries so I knew that my time was up so it was lucky to go out the way I did.
What’s your road car?
A Nissan GTR so that works out well! It’s obviously really quick but it’s a pretty practical car too, I can fit my bike in the boot which is important.
What’s the best advice you can give to a young sportsman?
Write down your goals and then plan on how to get there. Break everything into small chunks and aim for short term goals. The end goal can seem so far away that if you focus on getting there by reaching smaller goals, one at a time. That’s what I did when I was fourteen. I wrote down Olympic champion, I thought if you’re going to write a goal you might as well write a good one.