ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Spanish-Kurdish racecar driver Isaac Tutumlu finished third on Saturday in the Der DMV GT & Touring Car Cup in Germany at the Nürburgring podium in his first race for the Kurdistan Racing Team.
Similar to the Olympic games, the winner and two runners-up were allowed to stand on the podium after the race and collect their trophies.
The driver was ahead of the pack for a majority of the race but said due to his worn-out tires, he decided to play it safe and hover behind to secure a third-place finish.
My decision gave my team “the opportunity to go on the podium, show our flag, and get a trophy,” Tutumlu told Kurdistan 24.
Saturday’s competition was the first race for the Kurdistan Racing Team, which was previously called the Barzani Racing Team.
From 2011 to 2014, Tutumlu and his team competed under the name Barzani Racing Team. According to the driver, they were not permitted to use the name “Kurdistan Racing Team” during that period due to political issues in Germany.
In 2014, Tutumlu was forced to stop racing for the Barzani Racing Team due to a lack of financial support. Years before that, his team had defended the Kurdish colors at racing tracks across the globe from Daytona to Dubai to Silverstone to Nürburgring.
The financial support ended after an economic crisis in the Kurdistan Region when the Iraqi government cut the Kurdistan Regional Government’s (KRG) share of the national budget due to disagreements over the KRG’s independent oil sales.
The so-called Islamic State’s attack on Iraq in August 2014, where nearly 1,500 Peshmerga were martyred, and 90,000 others injured, also had an impact on the financial backing.
In 2019, a German businessman and racer, Roald Goethe, sponsored the Kurdistan Racing Teamunder the name ROFGO and Audi Sport.
Earlier this year, the International Automobile Federation and the Motor Sport Federation approved a request from Tutumlu and his team for the use of the name Kurdistan Racing Team.
“We are so happy because I cannot imagine a better way to start by getting a trophy in our first race ever,” he told Kurdistan 24.
“I hope this is the beginning of a very long and nice history,” Tutumlu added, promising his fans that his team would achieve better results and compete in more races in the future.
“We will always [bring] the Kurdish flag where it deserves to be, which is as high as possible, and [we will] represent our country at the highest level possible.”
Tutumlu was born in the city of Barcelona. His father is a Kurd from a village near Ankara, Turkey, while his mother is a Catalan, born in Barcelona. His interest in racecar driving began at a young age with go-karting until he eventually pursued his dreams of becoming a pro.
He has won numerous championships such as the Formula Catalunya, the Kart Club Valles Championship, and the Campionat de Catalunya among others.
Tutumlu continues to be an ambassador for the Barzani Charity Foundation (BCF), and in the past has donated apparel and sports equipment from Spanish football clubs Real Madrid, Barcelona, and Atlético Madrid to thousands of displaced children in refugee camps across the Kurdistan Region.
Although the BCF no longer sponsors him, the driver still has the foundation’s logo on his helmet.
Tutumlu said he hopes Nechirvan and Masrour Barzani’s appointments as the new Kurdistan Region President and Prime Minister respectively help him “get more support after this good result.”
Editing by Karzan Sulaivany