Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Female Rally Drivers Around the World: Turkey

Simin Bıçakcıoĝlu in Bulgaria in 2012

Burcu Çetinkaya now has her own post. 

Ayşegül Bacak – rallied a Fiat Palio in some Turkish events in 2010. She managed one finish in a major rally: a 31st place in the second round of the Istanbul Rally Championship. The first round ended in an off. That year, she was also active in hillclimbing, and won at least one Ladies’ Trophy. In 2012, she did some circuit racing in the Volkicar V1 Challenge, a one-make series. She was the fastest of three female drivers taking part that year.

Nisa Bozkurt -  began her career as a navigator. She has rallied a variety of cars around Turkey, including a Ford Ka in 2001, Citroen Saxo in 2002 and a Fiat Palio in 2004. She drove a Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 6 in the 2005 Rally of Turkey. The same year, she appears to have achieved her best result, eleventh in the Fiat Rally.

Burcu Burkut Erenkul - has been rallying in Turkey since 2008, when she was 19. Previously, she had done some karting, and done some circuit racing - the VW Polo Ladies’ Cup in 2006, and some junior racing in a Fiat Palio in 2007. Her first rally was the Istanbul Rally, and she was 30th in a Fiat Palio, seventh in class. In 2009, she did not have the funding for much rallying, so she did some powerboat racing, and entered the Istanbul championship at the end of the season. She won the Ladies’ and Junior category. For 2010, Ford of Turkey stepped in, and she entered three rounds of the Turkish championship in a Fiesta, finishing two. Her best result was 19th, second in class, in the Bosphorus Rally. The following year, she entered the full Turkish championship, in the Fiesta. She got her best result in the Yeşil Bursa Rallisi - eleventh, and third in class, and followed it with 17th in the Hittit Rallisi. She was third in her class at the end of the season. In 2012, she was more consistent, with three 19th places, and a best of fifteenth, in the Hittite Rally. She won Class 8, and was second in the ladies’ standings, behind her rival Simin Bıçakcıoĝlu. In 2013, she gained a new regular navigator, Seyma Yagiz, and continued to improve. She was in the top twenty in four of her seven rallies, with a best finish of thirteenth, in the Bosphorus Rally. She also won her class in the Kocaeli Rally. Only a retirement and an exclusion in the last two rallies of the season kept her from winning Class 8. She was 16th in the Turkish championship, and second lady, again behind Bıçakcıoĝlu. She continued to rally in 2014, in the Turkish championship. Despite her season being affected by a string of retirements, she was still quite competitive. Her best finish was a fifteenth place, in the Istanbul Rally. She was also 17th in the Bosphorus Rally, a European Trophy event. After missing the 2015 season, she drove a Ford Fiesta in the 2016 Saygili Rulman Ege Rally, but did not finish. 

Yasemin Culfaz – rallied in Turkey in 2010 and 2011. She started off in a Fiat Palio, and contested the Istanbul Rally Championship. Her best finish was 34th. For her 2011 season, she used a Ford Fiesta, and entered the Turkish championship. It was not an overly successful season, with three out of four rallies ending in retirement. She was 24th in the Bosphorus Rally, third in class.  

Ayşe Kar – competes in both rallying and rallycross in Turkey. In 2010, she rallied a Fiat Palio in Turkish National and other events. Her best finish was sixteenth, in the Yeşil Bursa Rally. She was also third in class. The same year, she was active in rallycross in Antalya, in a similar car. Further details are not forthcoming. Photos seem to suggest she did some more racing in 2011, but the specifics of this are also proving hard to find.

Serpil Pak - one of Turkey’s first female rally drivers. She began her career in 2005, driving a Fiat Palio in the Turkish championship. This was replaced by a Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VII in 2006. After a quiet couple of seasons, she drove a Ford Fiesta in the Turkish championship in 2010, with some good class finishes. A change to a Subaru Impreza gave her her first top-twenty finishes in 2011, including thirteenth place in the Yeşil Bursa Rally, with a class win. In 2012, in an Impreza, she was 20th in the Istanbul Rally. In 2013, she returned to driving a Fiesta, although it was not the most reliable. Her best finish was fourteenth, in the Bosphorus Rally. In 2014, still in the Fiesta, she achieved her first top-ten finish: tenth in the Rally 34 event. 2014 was a good year for her; she was a consistent top-twenty finisher in the Turkish championship, although she did non-finish twice, at the end of the season. She was also twelfth in the Istanbul Rally. In 2015, she managed another top ten finish, a tenth place in the Istanbul Rally. She was still in the Fiesta, and was seventeenth in the Turkish championship. 2016 was a less busy season for her, although she did fit in some travel, to the ACI Como National Rally, in Italy. Her car was a Peugeot 208, and she did not finish. Back at home, she drove the Fiesta in the Marmaris Rally Turkey, but also retired. In 2017, she entered the Istanbul Rally in a Fiesta, and was 25th overall. 

Melissa Tahincioglu – did a season in the Turkish Rally Championship in 2008. Her car was a Fiat Palio. Her best finish was 18th, in the Ford Otosan Kocaeli Rally, and she was fourth in class. Her biggest event was the Istanbul Rally, a round of the IRC, and she was 34th. In 2010, she did one rally, the Kocaeli event, in a Ford Fiesta. She was 25th overall, third in class. She has also taken part in circuit racing, and was fourteenth in the 2006 Volkswagen Polo Ladies’ Cup, held in Turkey. In 2011, she was one of the leading drivers in the V1 Challenge, held at Istanbul Autodrome. Previously, she had done some one-off rallies in the Turkish championship, in 2002 and 2003, in the Fiat.

Burcu Ürkmez – rallied a Fiat Palio in Turkey between 2008 and 2010. Her first season was her best one, with three top-twenty finishes in Istanbul Castrol rallies. Her next two years were plagued with non-finishes, although she did manage twelfth place in the 2009 Ford Otosan Kocaeli Rally. After that, she seems to have switched to circuit racing, and is listed as a driver in the Turkish Toyota Yaris Cup.

Nehir Yilmaz- erstwhile co-driver who started driving in Turkish rallies in 2016. She was 26th in that year’s Otosan Kocaeli Rally, driving a Fiat Palio. She has been competing as a co-driver since 2002, when she was 23. Among the drivers she has sat beside are Burcu Cetinkaya, Burcu Burkut Erenkul and Serpil Pak.

(Image from www.siminbicakcioglu.com)

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