Turkmen leader wins race with Turkish car

Turkmen leader wins race with Turkish car

ASGHABAT - The Associated Press
Turkmen leader wins race with Turkish car

Turkmenistan’s President Gurbanguli Berdymukhamedov sits in a Volkicar, a Turkish-made race car, after winning a car race in Ashgabat, yesterday. AP photo

Turkmenistan’s leader has proven he doesn’t only win elections easily, coming first in a car race he wasn’t even supposed to take part in.

President Gurbanguli Berdymukhamedov drove to the racing track in a Bugatti sports car on April 7 ostensibly to give his blessing to the nation’s maiden automotive competition with a Turkish-made race car.

While an event presenter introduced the president, he received a request nobody in Turkmenistan would be likely turn down. “Can I take part?” Berdymukhamedov asked.

Before long, the president had changed into racing gear, entered the zippy Volkicar automobile and promptly proceeded to record the best time in the time-trial challenge.

Announcers at the race said the winning car will be given to the national sports museum.

Berdymukhamedov’s choice to travel to the race in a Bugatti was in stark contrast with his preferred mode of transport during the elections, when he drove to a polling station with his family in a cramped Soviet-era Zhiguli.

The government is loudly proclaiming the need to turn Turkmenistan into a sporting power, and the race was touted as the opening salvo in the country’s plan to develop competitive automotive sports.