Entering a new race environment is always challenging. For Chris Hoy, that is something he has had to face at the start of every season in his motorsport career.
The former Olympic and world cycling champion has made a swift progression through the many ranks of endurance racing, and is now taking on his biggest – and fastest – challenge yet, with Algarve Pro Racing in LMP2.
“It’s always a challenge moving into a new team but the guys are great here at Algarve Pro Racing,” he tells The Checkered Flag. “It’s been really fun getting to know everybody: Michael [Munemann], the gent driver who helps fund the team, is a great character and really good fun; Andrea [Pizzitola] has been driving at Le Mans and champion of the Renault Sport Trophy so he’s incredibly quick, and Parth [Ghorpade] is a single seater driver coming into prototypes for the first time but he’s got so much potential.”
“It’s a nice mix and a really nice atmosphere to get to know each other. I feel there’s a real family appeal to the team. For me, it’s pretty much been the same story every year with a new team and new people to meet, but that’s nice because you get to see lots of new faces.”
On Friday at Silverstone, Hoy turned several laps aboard the Nissan-powered Algarve Pro Racing Ligier JS P2. Heavy rain in the morning made track conditions particularly challenging, and even when a dry line emerged in the afternoon the drivers were struggling for grip, as Hoy explains.
“It was a bit of a difficult session. I got nine laps in at the end of second practice, although didn’t manage to a clear lap in. I did a 1m 55 but also some slower ones – I think at the moment everybody’s got the same problem in traffic.”
“When there’s one dry line and grease everywhere else it’s really challenging to overtake. The differential pace between LMP2 and LMP3 is not as much as it was last year, it’s getting closer. It’s tough to get through the traffic so that’s the biggest thing to work on. There is a big differential in driving ability as well, because you’ve got pros down to proper amateurs, so you really need to keep your wits about you.”
“I learn every time I get in the car. But it was a good day and we were able to bring the car back in one piece, which is the priority. We don’t want any accidents or hindrances – fortunately we managed to iron out the electrical problems we had this morning – so while it hasn’t been an amazing first day it could have been a lot worse!”
Last season Hoy won the ELMS LMP3 championship with Ginetta and Team LNT. At the Silverstone curtain raiser last April he took victory with team-mate Charlie Robertson. Fast forward 12 months and he is feeling even more confident with the circuit that gave him his first major race win.
“We [Algarve Pro Racing] had a test at Silverstone last Tuesday (April 12) and I did a 1m 52.1 which was only half a second off Andrea’s lap in the same car with identical conditions,” he said. “That was probably the best performance I think I’ve put in…ever!”
“To be that close to the pro’s time was fantastic. When comparing to a pro, a good benchmark to aim for is two seconds off their quickest lap. Anywhere it that region means you have done well. So I was really happy with that performance and it was by far the quickest I’ve ever gone round this circuit.”
“I did a 1m 58 a few weeks ago in the new Ginetta G57, and at the time that was the quickest I had ever lapped at Silverstone so the 1m 52 in testing was a big drop! I feel like I’m attacking it more and getting to know the circuit better. I’m becoming much more comfortable with my driving.”
Hoy will make his LMP2 race debut at Silverstone later today (April 16). The 4 Hours of Silverstone is set to go green at 14:30 local time.