Multiple Olympic cycling gold medal winner Sir Chris Hoy took a step closer to competing in the Le Mans 24 Hours with a first taste of LMP2 machinery in a test at Estoril.
Hoy, who along with team mate Charlie Robertson, was crowned the inaugural ELMS LMP3 champion at Paul Ricard in September, did 40 laps of the Portuguese track on Monday behind the wheel of a Greaves Motorsport-run Gibson-Nissan.
"I immediately felt comfortable and was excited to find that the car does exactly what you ask it to do and really encourages you to use the downforce it delivers,” said Hoy.
"It was wet today but even though the track was slippery I had lots of grip. I would love to race that car at Le Mans - in fact I want to get back in it straight away.
Jacob Greaves, team manager at Graves Motorsport, said that Hoy drove "extremely well" during the test, adding: "He arrived behind schedule [because of fog at Heathrow airport], but immediately focused on the job he had to do.
"His lap times were consistent despite the bad weather and he impressed our engineer with his driving.
"We ran him all the way through until darkness fell and it was good to see that the change in light didn't faze him at all."
Hoy’s objective is to make his Le Mans 24 Hours start in the LMP2 class next season. Hoy’s team-mate Robertson will test the car on Tuesday.
ACO LMP pyramid is working
Hoy’s test is part of a prize for winning the LMP3 class in the ELMS this year, and ACO President Pierre Fillon believes that the ladder from LMP3 to LMP1 is a viable way to nurture endurance racing talent.
“The endurance pyramid is very important to the ACO,” said Fillon. “We wanted to create an entry-level category for our competitors and we are delighted with the success that the LMP3 category has enjoyed in its first year.
"It is good to see Greaves Motorsport running Sir Chris Hoy and Charlie Robertson. They both fought hard for their championship win so they deserve this prize drive.
"This test gives the winners a real opportunity to be assessed by a LMP2 champion and to open other doors for the future.
"The LNT team, of which Hoy and Robertson, are members also win an invitation for the 2016 Le Mans 24 Hours in LMP2, provided they're entered in one of our series. It’s an exceptional prize.”
Greaves Motorsport is evaluating running a car in the 2016 FIA WEC, possibly in conjunction with a title defence in the ELMS.
Jon Lancaster, Gary Hirsch and Bjorn Wirdheim claimed the 2015 ELMS crown at Estoril last month.