Exclusive: Saudi female race driver Reema Juffali excited to be back in Dubai
Juffali's progress has been astonishing in the world of racing with stints at Formula 4 and British F3 Championship earning her global recognition
Having begun her career as Saudi Arabia’s first-ever female race driver in Dubai, Reema Juffali is now back in the city of iconic landmarks.
Juffali’s own progress has been astonishing in the world of racing with stints at Formula 4 and British F3 Championship earning her global recognition.
Last year, Juffali was the only female driver in British F3.
But now, the 29-year-old driver wants to test her skills in endurance racing, starting with the 24 Hours of Dubai race (January 14-15) at the Dubai Autodrome.
“Yeah, it (life as a race driver) has definitely come full circle. It’s really good to be back at a track where I started my racing journey,” Juffali told Khaleej Times over the phone on Tuesday.
“So to come back here after two-and-a-half years to be racing and competing in the 24 Hours of Dubai is more than I expected. And I am just excited to get back on the track,” added Juffali who would be racing for her new team, SPS Automotive Performance.
Endurance racing, Juffali admits, would demand different sort of skills from her as a driver.
“Yes, in single-seater racing, you are driving at 100 per cent from start to finish. But in endurance racing, sometimes you might have to drive at 70 per cent, and you may also have to nurse, hopefully not, mechanical issues or maybe the tyres that are worn out. So it requires a completely different strategy,” she said.
“I am going to learn a lot, a lot of new things for me. But I am definitely trying to be as prepared as I can be for the race.”
The next two years will be crucial for the Saudi trailblazer who hopes to engrave her name in the legendary Le Mans.
“It’s (Dubai event) definitely a step to reaching the goal of Le Mans. You know endurance racing requires a different sort of mindset. And the only way to get that experience is getting involved in these races,” she said.
“Le Mans is, of course, the pinnacle of endurance racing. You will definitely see me in the next couple of years getting involved in more of these races in order to achieve my dream of participating in the 24 hours of Le Mans.”
Finally, Juffali revealed what it meant to be named ambassador for the inaugural Saudi Arabian Formula One Grand Prix last year.
“You know the question I often get asked if what my greatest achievement or memory in racing is. Even though this one actually did not have me in a car, but I take pride in representing my country as an ambassador in the Saudi Grand Prix,” she said.
“Being the first Grand Prix and me playing my part, I could not have asked for anything better. And hopefully that experience of sharing my journey, connecting with Saudi and international audiences and showcasing Saudi for what it is, was definitely special.”
For Juffali, it was also a lifetime experience to witness the gladiatorial battle for the world championship between Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton in the season’s final two F1 races in Saudi and Abu Dhabi.
“It was exciting, a lot of nerves, you know, watching that it was hard to believe what happened in front of my eyes,” she said.
“I think it also showcases what the region has to offer in terms of tracks, facilities. I think the Saudi Grand Prix had the largest viewing audience of the year. This is only going to grow from here.”