APR 11th 2014

The Olympians are coming

Chris Hoy swaps handlebars for steering wheel

Who says cyclists and motorists can’t get along? If you watch too much helmet-cam YouTube footage from crusading London cyclists or read Jeremy Vine’s Twitter feed for too long, you’d be forgiven for thinking that drivers and riders are ever-warring factions. It’s true that some animosity may exist, but we know plenty of petrolheads who are not averse to donning lycra, and vice versa.

Team GB’s Sir Chris Hoy is the best-known petrolhead cyclist. Having chalked up eleven world championships and six Olympic cycling championships, there’s no doubting his ability on two wheels. Now he’s now saving his legs and making a career move into motorsport. We wouldn’t bet against the 38-year old being as competitive behind the wheel as he is on a bike.

Chris Hoy

He’s no motorsport novice. Many will have first seen his driving talent at the wheel of Colin McRae’s Subaru Impreza in a documentary about the rally driver. In 2013 he took to a full season’s competition in the Radical SR1 Cup. He has Goodwood history, too, having put on a great display in a Mini in the St Mary’s Trophy at last year’s Revival.

But now he has his sights set on the Le Mans 24-hour. This year he will compete in the British GT Championship in a works Nissan GT-R Nismo GT3 car. The goal is to reach the British GT podium with the ultimate plan to compete at La Sarthe in 2016.

Ben Ainslie learns tactics from Darren Turner

Another sportsman from a different discipline to come to motorsport is four-time Olympic sailing gold medallist Sir Ben Ainslie. Prodrive chairman Dave Richards invited him to drive one of its Aston Martin Vantage GT4 racers, something he got to grips with quickly having first spent almost two hours on a simulator with Aston Martin works driver Darren Turner.

Aston Martin Vantage GT4 2014 110414 copyBen Ainslie Aston Martin copy

Unlike Chris Hoy, though, it doesn’t look as though Ainslie will be coming to professional motorsport any time soon. He commented: “I think I did nearly 20 laps and, even with breaks, the level of concentration required leaves you feeling exhausted. I can’t imagine how Darren can race the full works spec Vantage for up to two hours at a time, sometimes in the dark and rain. I think I’ll continue to concentrate on sailing.”

Goes to prove it takes more than only a competitive character to make it in motorsport.

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