HE IS an 11 times world and six-times Olympic cycling champion but now Sir Chris Hoy will take on a remarkable new sporting challenge. And this time it's on four wheels.
Nissan, the official automotive partner of the British Olympic Association (BOA) and British Paralympic Associations (BPA), recently signed Hoy as a brand ambassador on the Road to Rio 2016.
But the relationship will work both ways as Nissan will put Hoy through its advanced Driver Development Programme currently enjoyed by the winners of the Nissan PlayStation GT Academy competition fast-tracking his evolution into top level motorsport. Hoy, who has already shown great talent in a number of club races, will compete in a Nissan GTR Nismo GT3 car in this year's British GT Championship.
The ultimate goal of the programme will be to get Sir Chris back on the podium and progress to competing with Nissan in 2016 at the Le Mans 24 Hours, the world's most famous endurance race.
Hoy explained: "Nissan is already a huge contributor to the British economy with its investment in manufacturing, technology and design now it is also investing in British sporting success via the Team GB and Paralympics GB programmes. It's fantastic for me to be working with Nissan GB on this. When we sat down to discuss the relationship, we talked about how we could make things a two-way street.
"When I learned what had been achieved through Nissan's Driver Development Programme I was keen to take my enthusiasm for motorsport to the next level.
"This won't be easy but I could not turn down the chance to give it a go. My ultimate ambition is to race at Le Mans. That is the dream, but I'm taking this one step at a time."
Nissan GB marketing director, Guillaume Masurel said: "At Nissan, we always do things differently. As Britain's biggest vehicle manufacturer, we are proud to commit our support for both the British Olympic Association and British Paralympic Association on the road to success in Rio 2016.
"Through our #uniteandexcite campaign we will be giving fans exclusive access to our team of athletes and showcasing their stories and preparation as we count down to Rio 2016. Now we can offer another new story, which is a further demonstration of Nissan's innovative thinking.
"We will be supporting the new talent and new technology through our partnership with BOA and BPA but in this case the new talent happens to be Britain's most successful Olympian.
"Sir Chris has already shown that he is a very capable driver and by combining our expertise in driver development, a great car and an experienced team with his natural ability, drive and determination, this will be a fascinating journey."
Hoy will race for the experienced Nissan GT Academy Team RJN. Nismo Athlete Alex Buncombe, who has helped all of the GT Academy graduates transition from gamer to racer, will partner him in the Nissan GTR Nismo GT3 for the majority of the season's seven race weekends.
The 2014 British GT Championship gets underway on Easter weekend at Cheshire's Oulton Park circuit. Within the Championship rules, Chris will compete as a 'bronze' driver not a colour he is overly familiar with!
"This makes perfect sense to us," said Nissan's Director of Global Motorsport, Darren Cox. "The Le Mans 24 Hours is the Olympics of motorsport so who better to take on an epic challenge such as this."
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