December 6 2013 Latest news:
Andrew Fitchett, Reporter
Friday, October 25, 2013
Olympic legend Sir Chris Hoy has swapped the steeped walls of the velodrome for the chicanes of Snetterton this weekend as he embarks on another hi-octane pursuit.
Having conquered the velodrome, the legendary former cyclist is looking to climb the motorsport ladder having signed up for team Radical in the SR-1 Cup.
He was at Snetterton today for testing and will be chasing the chequered flag in two races tomorrow.
The novice race series gives rookie drivers a chance to get behind the wheel of a 185bhp racing car at circuits in the UK.
And despite winning six Olympic gold cycling medals, a knighthood and the acclaim of a nation, Sir Chris says he is ready to fulfil a long-held ambition.
“I’m a big motorsport fan, I love F1 and Colin McRae was a hero of mine.
“Radical got in touch with me about a year ago and having that chance to race meant I didn’t need much persuasion,” he said.
Sir Chris, who retired in April, has since forked out more than £38,000 of his own money to compete in the six race series.
He’s found mixed success in races at circuits including Brands Hatch and Bedford Autodrome, with a top three finish just beyond his reach.
His best performance was at Oulton Park, where an early spin saw him drop to 14th, before he fought back to finish fifth.
Despite having gone from the top of the podium to the back of the grid, the six-time Olympic gold medal winner insists he is as focussed as ever.
“It’s a hobby but at the same time, when you are in the car and the lights go out on the grid, you are trying to win the race.
“It could be an empty track on a wet and windy day but you are in that moment,” he said.
Moving from bike to car may not seem a natural progression, but Sir Chris says some of the skills come in handy.
“I think it’s about the whole world ceasing to exist for a moment. Everything is just in front of you there and then.
“The difference with my cycling career is that there’s not that level of expectation,” he said.
If Sir Chris does line up with his rivals on the podium today, onlookers will spot an obvious disadvantage - Hoy’s hulking 6ft 1ins frame.
The Radical engineers have even had to produce a bespoke, smaller steering wheel with a section cut out to fit around his tree-trunk thighs.
“You see some of the drivers out there and they are built like jockeys - it’s not an ideal fit for someone my size,” he said.
The adapted steering wheel is not the only difference with Hoy’s vehicle.
Driving car number 1, his name is emblazoned on the bonnet and the spoiler bears a proudly Scottish alternative - “The Golden Son of William Wallace”.
And even as the cars flash by at speeds of up to 120mph, fans will be able to pick out the former cyclist’s car as the only one with golden wheels.
Roger Green, marketing manager for Radical, said Sir Chris’ participation had been great news for the competition.
“He’s a really nice guy in the paddock, it increases the profile of the championship and he loves the car.
“It’s also clear he’s a professional as he takes coaching very easily and he’s always looking to improve,” he said.