Reema Juffali took 12th, 9th and 11th, respectively, in last weekend’s three F4 races at Brands Hatch.
“I went into [the] weekend with certain goals in mind and I managed to achieve them, so I’m very happy about that. I finished all three races and even scored some points,”
Reema Juffali, one of the first female race car drivers to hail from Saudi Arabia, made her F4 British Championship Circuit debut last weekend at the legendary Brands Hatch Indy track in England. Although the 27-year-old’s last-place finish in her inaugural race on Saturday was less than she had hoped for (and stemmed largely from an unexpectedly extended pit stop), her participation alone was a resounding victory for the image of Saudi women as it shattered one more glass ceiling.
“Being at such a historic track around thousands of fans made my debut [F4] race very memorable,”
On Sunday (7th April), Juffali improved her performance with a 9th place finish in the first race of the day and an 11th place finish in the second of the day’s two competitions. Juffali kicked off her racing career just 10 months ago in the United Arab Emirates when she began racing on local circuits there. She ultimately took the decision to leave her financial services job in Dubai to test her mettle on the world’s race tracks.
“In terms of tracks, I think this is the most complex set of circuits that we have in the calendar and for me, someone who has no experience, I think it’s a good place to be put on the edge and be thrown out in the deep end.”
The F4 British Championship, certified by FIA, comprises 10 races around the UK, with the first and last race weekends of the season taking place at Brands Hatch. The Championship concludes on October 12-13. Given that women were not allowed to drive in Saudi Arabia until last June, sitting in the cockpit of a single-seater race car is an accomplishment few would have predicted for a Saudi woman. Juffali, who completed her education in the United States before accepting a Dubai-based job in finance, took her first competitive laps last October behind the wheel of a Toyota GT86 road car at a TRD 86 Cup race at Abu Dhabi’s Yas Marina Circuit.
Juffali grabbed two class podiums in her debut at Abu Dhabi and won her first race there in December. She then segued to single-seater racing in India’s MRF Challenge, making her debut earlier this year at the season finale in Chennai. In addition to joining the MRF Challenge, Juffali has continued competing in the TRD 86 Cup where she now leads the Silver category and currently holds third place overall.
“All the guys are quite welcoming… My teammates, as well, have taken me on as ‘the girl’ on the team. It’s been great. Hopefully, it can add a little spice to the team.”
Her upgrade to British F4 just six months after her Middle East racing debut was impressive in and of itself, but truly monumental in light of the recently removed prohibition of women driving in Saudi Arabia. With a newly empowered female population in her native Saudi Arabia, women are assuming roles and jobs never thought possible. Looking forward to her first year of competition in what is arguably the most competitive junior single-seater category in Europe, Juffali is acutely aware that the competition is considered a proving ground for the racing world’s stars of the future.
“In terms of being from Saudi Arabia, it’s such a great thing for me to do and represent my country and it’s a good time in Saudi to be doing such a thing and all the support I’ve gotten from friends, family, people I don’t even know, has been fantastic and it’s only been pushing me to do better.”