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Olympic hero Hoy gets off his bike and into the driving seat

HE has already conquered the cycling track with a record-breaking tally of six Olympic gold medals.

ON A NEW TRACK: Sir Chris Hoy.
ON A NEW TRACK: Sir Chris Hoy.

Now Sir Chris Hoy is turning his attention to a new competitive challenge as a professional car driver, with the ultimate aim of competing in the world-famous Le Mans 24 Hours race.

Britain's most decorated ­Olympian has confirmed he will join the British GT Championship in a Nissan as part of a three-year plan to take part in the French classic.

Sir Chris, 38, only made his car racing debut last season in the relatively new Radical SR1 Cup and has driven a variety of Nissan GT touring cars in preparation for the step up.

He said: "It's quite intimidating [but] I want to do my best and do these guys justice.

"It might sound ridiculous right now but my ambition in motorsport is to compete at Le Mans. Who knows if it's even remotely possible but that's my dream. I'm in the right place to do it."

The champion cyclist has joined the Japanese manufacturer's Academy outfit Team RJN and will be partnered in its NISMO GT-R GT3 by Alex Buncombe.

"We always do things differently," said Nissan GB marketing director Guillaume Masurel.

Sir Chris said: "There are fantastic people here who have the right experience. If I can do what they tell me to do, listen to them and develop, then it may not be a ridiculous dream.

"At the moment, though, I'm just thinking about British GT and we'll see how this season goes."

Commonly known as the Grand Prix of Endurance and Efficiency, teams at Le Mans have to balance speed against the cars' ability to run for 24 hours without sustaining mechanical damage to the car and manage the cars' consumables, primarily fuel, tyres and braking materials.

The endurance of the drivers is also tested as drivers frequently spend stints of over two hours behind the wheel before stopping in the pits and allowing a relief driver to take over the driving duties.

Drivers then grab what food and rest they can before returning to drive another stint.

The Le Mans 24 Hours circuit is known as the Circuit de la Sarthe. The nine-mile loop, a mix of permanent track and public roads closed for the event, has claimed the lives of 22 drivers in its 80 year history.

The race is no stranger to tragedy. In 1955, 84 people were killed when a car crash sent debris flying into the crowd.

In 1972, Swedish driver Jo Bonnier was killed instantly when he collided with a Ferrari and the force of the impact catapulted him into woodland lining the track.

In last year's tournament, Danish racing driver Allan Simonsen was fatally injured after losing control and striking crash barriers at the Tertre Rouge section.

Sir Chris, from Edinburgh, announced his surprise retirement from track cycling in April 2013 saying it had taken all his energy to win at the London Olympics in 2012.

He had been expected to compete in the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games but said he felt "to go on for another year would be one too far".

Besides winning six Olympic gold medals between 2004 and 2012, Sir Chris' sporting achievements include 11 world championship titles and two Commonwealth Games golds from Manchester 2002 and Melbourne 2006.

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