Olympic cycling legend Chris Hoy realized a life-long dream on Sunday as he finished the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 17th place.
Hoy competed at four Olympic Games for Great Britain, culminating in London four years ago when he became the nation’s most successful Olympian by winning a sixth gold medal.
Hoy retired from cycling in 2013 and turned his attention to motorsport, joining Nissan in the British GT championship the following year with a view to racing at Le Mans in 2016.
Three years of training came to fruition earlier this year when Nissan confirmed he would be joining Algarve Pro Racing for Le Mans in the LMP2 class.
Hoy completed three stints during the 24-hour race as he and teammates Michael Munemann and Andrea Pizzitola took the No. 25 to 17th overall and 12th in class.
Given the nature of Toyota’s agonizing defeat at the front of the field, Hoy admitted he was relieved to have finished the race.
“Just when you think you’ve seen everything a race has to offer. Right at the death of the race, you see something else happen,” Hoy said.
“Incredible. The Toyota pulls over, the disappointment, heartbreaking scenes in their garage, the delight in the Porsche garage – an amazing race.
“And for us, to see Andrea crossing the line, to see everything that meant for the team was amazing.”
Hoy cast his mind back to when he took his first laps in a car during a track day at Oulton Park, a club circuit in the UK, which had led to him racing at one of motorsport’s greatest events.
“Thinking about starting out at Oulton Park doing track days, sitting for my test… the whole journey to get here,” Hoy said.
“There were times when I didn’t think it was going to happen and I thought – a bit like the Olympics, – thinking even if you don’t make it, you might get half-way and do something exciting.
“But even with this I thought I’d got to race British GT and European Le Mans series last year and test the LM P2 car last year so I’d already done something great.
“But we made it here to Le Mans – and we didn’t just make it. We finished the race – just amazing.”
Speaking to BBC Sport, Hoy admitted that while he has no firm plans to keep racing, he is desperate to return to Le Mans in the future.
“At the moment, this race brings my motorsport programme to an end,” he said.
“There’s nothing else in the calendar for the rest of the year, unfortunately, but I’ve got the Le Mans bug and I’m desperate to come back, do it again and improve my driving.
“As we know, racing costs money, but I’d love to come back and race again.”