Life in cars
Fast on two wheels, faster on four, the bicycle champion talks his motoring past
“It all started with a Citroen Xantia. I inherited it from my dad so I could drive up and down from university in Edinburgh to the Manchester Velodrome. I didn’t actually learn to drive until I was 21; up to that point I cycled everywhere – I just didn’t need a car. That car had about 100,000 miles on it when I got it, and 180,000 when it fnally died.
“The frst car I bought with my own money was a BMW 318i saloon. At the time it was my dream car – I cleaned it every couple of days. My dad had a BMW 2002 when I was young, so the 318 was a big deal.
“After that it was a Volkswagen Golf GTI, the diesel one, the VW Golf GTI TDI PD, I think it was called. It had 150bhp, which back in 2003 was a lot. I followed that up with an Audi A4… I was starting to get a bit grown-up with my cars then. I just really liked the look of the S line at that time. I should have got an estate to ft my bike in, but I went for the saloon.
“In 2008 I bought an E46 M3 – a secondhand one with 8,000 on the clock. It was carbon black, red interior, immaculate. That was my frst proper performance car and I wish I’d never sold it.
“About that time I did a few track days at the Bedford Autodrome and loved it. Jonathan Palmer told me to get a small car that’s light and doesn’t waste the tyres and brakes. He recommended a Caterham, so I bought an R400 and started going to my local track – Oulton Park. A while after that I swapped it for something quicker – a Lotus 2-Eleven. I had a bit of an of at a track day, though, and that was the end of that. I had it fully repaired, but sold it and replaced it with another Caterham, the 420R.
“Around the time I bought the frst Caterham, my road car changed from the M3 to an XKR. I was doing a bit of stuf with Jaguar at the time, so I didn’t own the car, but it was my daily driver for about four years. And then came the Nissan GT-R – I had that for three years. Then six months ago I got an RS6 estate and ftted a Milltek exhaust. In terms of an everyday car, it does everything. It can paint a smile on your face when you put your foot down – the noise of it is amazing, but also it’s nice and quiet when you put it in standard soft comfort mode. Oh, and my wife told me to mention she’s got a VW Golf R. Manual gearbox, of course.”