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  • Writer's pictureVIVIEN STREBELOW

Impressive international debut for Seda Kaçan in TCR Italy at Imola

Seda Kaçan made her international racing debut in the highly competitive TCR Italy at Imola and impressed with two podiums in the DSG class, making history as the first ever female driver to represent Turkey internationally on racetracks. The young Turkish woman adapted fast and made progess every session, as she aims for a full campaign next year.

Photo by Giada Simonetti / TCR Italy

The final round of the TCR Italy season at Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari in Imola saw an interesting new entry as Turkish racer Seda Kaçan joined the grid for her debut in international racing with the Audi RS3 DGS operated by Bitci Racing Team AMS, a team specialized in touring cars with DSG gearbox.

Born in 1994, Seda Kaçan started her racing career last year together with Bitci Racing Team AMS in the Turkish Racetrack Championship and improved a lot during her first year of competitions. In 2023 she was able to claim her first victory and became the first ever woman to win a race in the series. Kaçan then made more history as she became the first Turkish female driver in TCR Italy and indeed internationally in circuit competitions, joining the field in the 100th anniversary of the Republic of Turkey. She was the third woman to enter a race in the Italian championship this year, following Francesca Raffele and Carlotta Fedeli.

The TCR Italy field is divided into two classes - TCR and TCR DSG, which employ a different gearbox. Kaçan joined the TCR DSG grid for the final double-header of the season.

Two practice sessions took place on Friday, with Franco Girolami setting the overall pace ahead of Ruben Volt and Niels Langeveld. During the sessions, track limits were a spicy topic, as drivers had several lap times deleted. The TCR DSG class saw Filippo Barberi setting the fastest lap, ahead of Mauro Trentin and Vito Tagliente.

Barberi was fastest once again in the second practice, with positions unchanged.

Kaçan was fourth fastest among the DSG entries in both sessions; she spent the sessions getting up to speed with the car and learning the track - a fast and tricky layout especially for a rookie that often gives small room for mistakes. Kaçan made big improvements through the session and set a 2:07.991 in FP1, then went on to improve by over six seconds in FP2, clocking a 2:01.050 that brought her a lot closer to the DSG competitors.

The qualifying on Saturday morning saw Volt fastest overall, ahead of Poloni and Girolami. In TCR DSG, it would be Barberi to take pole position, ahead of Trenti, Tagliente and Kaçan.

Seda showed great progression into qualifying as well: she recorded her best lap of the weekend up until that point, a 2:00.244 that meant a 3.5 second gap to the class lead and eight tenths to the car in front, further highlighting a very quick adaptation. She would start 33rd overall and 4th in class ahead of race 1 later in the afternoon.

Photo by Massimo Fulgenzi / TCR Italy

Race 1 started with drama already in the formation lap, as Nello Nataloni stopped on track and Michele Imberti came into the pits before the race started. But that was just the beginning, as pole sitter Volt stalled his Honda Civic FL5 at lights out and several drivers couldn't avoid contact with his car: a big crash with over 10 cars involved brought out the red flag to allow drivers to be attended and cars to be recovered. Luckily, most weren't hurt - although Sylvain Pussier was later found to have a broken vertebrae. The restart took place behind the Safety Car, with positions re-ordered from qualifying results - excluding the 11 cars already out of the race. Poloni held the lead as the race went back to green and, as the clock ticked down, the race was filled with battles all over the place and overtakes for positions: Butti finally made his way up to take the win, crossing the finish line ahead of Girolami and Langeveld. In TCR DSG, Barberi took a flag to flag victory without being under pressure from Trentin in second. The exciting battle, on the other hand, was on for third place: Tagliente desperately tried to defend from Seda Kaçan - but the Turkish driver ran on competitive times and closed in on the VW Golf driver, eventually finding a way past for the podium position halfway through the race. Kaçan made a clean pass and kept third place until the chequered flag, becoming the first ever Turkish female racer to represent her country on an international podium. She also managed to finish 18th overall in a strong 33 car field. In race 2, Aurelien Comte started from the overall pole and managed to keep the lead while Felice Jelmimi, who started second, lost positions at the start. Like in race 1, battles and overtakes took place throughout the race duration; Butti, coming from the back, passed Comte on lap 3 to get into the lead. The Safety Car was deployed when Ruben Fernandez spun but the race went back to green soon again, with Butti and Comte battling once again for the lead. Despite light contact, Butti managed to hold on, however Comte dropped down to 5th. Target Competition's Marco Butti took victory ahead of Langeveld and Girolami - who was crowned series champion. In TCR DSG it was again an easy run for Filippo Barberi, unchallenged in his win ahead of Mauro Trentin. The battle for third place however was on fire between Tagliente and Kaçan. This time Tagliente held on until the eighth lap, before the Turkish talent overtook him to bring home another podium position in class and another top-20 overall in one of the most competitive TCR series. Seda made incredible improvements throughout the race, running on great pace and setting her first lap times under the 2 minute mark: she first clocked a 1:59.989 on lap 10, once having cleared the VW Golf driven by Tagliente. She then improved to 1:59.006 two laps later, in what would remain her personal best from the whole weekend. She managed the tyres well and kept running consistently on the 1:59 pace, crossing the finish line over five seconds ahead of Tagliente. Seda made history as the first Turkish woman to compete in the series, as well as the first to bring home the silverware with two podium finishes. Importantly, she showed adaptability and quick learning-skills, as her impressive international debut demonstrates. By consistently improving her lap times - by over 8 seconds over the weekend - Kaçan had a remarkable first weekend in the series, as she now aims to return for a full campaign in 2023.

Photo by Mattia Negrini / TCR Italy



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