Nadal to give Le Mans 24-hours race start

Rafael Nadal suffered a rare defeat on clay last week to Dominic Thiem in Madrid

Tennis star Rafael Nadal will give the official start to next month's 24-hours of Le Mans endurance race, organisers said on Monday.

The 16-time Grand Slam winner, currently the world number two behind long-time rival Roger Federer, will give the start for the 86th edition of the historic endurance race at 3pm on June 16, organisers ACO said.

ACO president Pierre Fillon said Nadal's status as "an exceptional figure in his discipline" aligned with his characteristics of "talent, fair-play, pugnacity, competitiveness and strategic intelligence" meant that he exhibits "the fundamental traits" of endurance racing.

"Our race will be represented by an immensely prestigious man," added Fillon of the 10-time Roland Garros champion.

Nadal added: "I can't wait to discover this spectacular new discipline."

In 2014, Nadal's compatriot and Formula One star Fernando Alonso gave the Le Mans start, but this year will be starting on the grid as race favourite in his Toyota TS050 Hybrid.

Rafael Nadal suffered a rare defeat on clay last week to Dominic Thiem in Madrid