GearHeads Interview – Nehir Yilmaz – Turkish Female Rally Racer
Today at GearHeads we get the pleasure of interviewing a rally racer by the name of Nehir Yilmaz who is the co-pilot for the Turkish rally racing team. She has been racing now for several years and has a laundry list of accolades to her name. As we love the thought of sliding cars around tight curves and jumping crests here at GearHeads, this young lady has been the co-pilot on some incredible races and been through the ups and the downs and the rolling and flipping. Here is what insight she gave us during her interview.
First off, good luck on your 2013 Turkey Rally Championship how has this event been for you so far?
The Turkish Rally Championship is made of 3 tarmac and 4 gravel races. Other than that, it is also constituted of a local and a private cup. I am co-pilot to my driver Hakki Agaoglu who is an old friend of mine and a driver that I enjoyed following, had the chance this year to rally together for the first time.
We got along very quickly but we are not ranked where we are supposed to be as we have unfortunately experienced a few mechanical problems. The remaining rallies are gravel and if we do not have any more problems, we feel more confident in gravel rallies. We are now getting ready for the Bosphorus Rally (September 27-28) which is a gravel rally. We believe that will have a better result as we have worked hard for it.
How long have you been in rally racing and how did you get started with rally racing?
I used to be a guide for ecotourism and I am a completely passionate for nature and outdoor sports. I have done camping, rafting, trekking, parachuting, quads and jeep safaris in Turkey’s natural parks. In 2002, a rally driver who attended one of my tours had asked me if I would be interested in being his co-driver. My answer was yes as rallying is a challenge in the nature. I didn’t have a special interest in cars; hence I had a few courses to become a co-driver before my first rally. At that same rally we had a rollover but that didn’t stop me from carrying on until now where it is safe to say that I have participated to more than 100 rallies nationally and internationally.
How popular is Rally Racing in Turkey and is it becoming more popular?
Motorsports is unfortunately not as popular as soccer or basketball in Turkey. Rally is even more behind other motorsports as it is harder to watch as a spectator. But I believe that it will become more popular with more sponsorships and if so more successful drivers will arise in the international arena.
As the co-pilot(navigator) for the driver, how do you manage to stay calm during fast driving? Is it hard to scare you normally?
You need concentration in order to be successful in rallying. And if you are afraid that means that you do not trust your driver and thus you can’t be successful. I am still very excited before each rally. But once I see the start lights, there is only my pace notes, the road and giving the correct notes at the correct time, so I leave behind the fear.
What is a rally race that you would like to compete in soon (for example WRC, Dakar, etc?
The moments I enjoy the most in rallying are the jumps over the crests. The higher and the longer the jump is the better I feel. Hence WRC Finland is my favorite. And of course I would love to do a full WRC season but we do not have a plan for the soon future.
Would you consider making the switch to Driver?
No, I have never thought about it and do not have a wish for it. I’m a co-driver
How hard is it to get your rally car parts to your team in Turkey?
It’s very hard to find the rally car parts in Turkey. Turkish companies do not import rally spare parts as there are not many rallies. And those that do import in small volumes as they want to keep small stocks,
Hence why we order it from abroad which makes it very expensive and we pay high taxes.
Do you have any exciting moments that you would like to share?
I love to travel and see new places and had the chance to travel and know a lot of different people and different continents thanks to rallying. Therefore, I have so many memories that I will always remember.
But especially one of them is unforgettable: The Jhal Magsi Desert Challenge was a trip of 10 days in Pakistan. We were invited to this desert challenge in Balochistan. I raced with a local driver called Nauman Khan along the desert with a pickup for 200km. For the whole rally we only had 20 min of service in-between, and I had to stamp my carnet. It was so crowded and people were all around the car staring that I had to ask for help in order to get out of the vehicle. I will never forget that trip.
For those who would like to get into rally racing, do you have any advice for them?
First of all it is important to know that rallying is a dangerous sport. You need discipline and a good condition. It takes a lot of time and you always need to be focused. Thus, those who want to start competing should start from getting an education from an expert.
Thanks to Nehir Yilmaz for giving us some insight into her life as a co-pilot and how incredible it must be. As she continues her racing career we see that she has racked up some incredible accomplishments such as –
2003 Istanbul Local Rally class winner of three co-pilot
Co-pilot Miss Local Rally Championship 2005 Istanbul
Rally Championship 2006 Turkey Champion Female co-pilot
Co-pilot, the third Local 2007 Istanbul
Rally Championship 2007 Turkey co-pilot, the third class 2
2008 Belgian National Fiesta Cup
Local Rally Group H winner of 2008 Istanbul
Turkey 2009 Historic Rally Champion co-pilot
Co-pilot Miss Local Rally Championship 2010 Istanbul
2011 Jhal Magsi Desert Challenge
2012 Turkey Rally Championship Women’s co-pilot, the third
Co-pilot, the second in 2012 Qatar National Championships
We wish her well here at GearHeads and hope there any many more awards to come. If you want to find out more information then visit Nehir Yilmaz of GP Team at (http://myteam.com.tr/) and you can also read more about on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/NehirYlLMAZ if you wish to follow her and her team.
Categories: Readers Rides