Saudi Arabia’s top female driver Reema Juffali is readying for a gearshift in her motorsport career as she swaps open-wheel Formula driving for endurance racing — kicking off her season at Dubai Autodrome this weekend at the 24 Hours Of Dubai,
The 29-year-old from Jeddah will line up where it all began in the GT3-Am class at Dubai Autodrome representing SPS Automotive Performance
Reema will be behind the wheel of the Mercedes-AMG GT3 on January 14 on a track that will feature more than 80 cars.
“It is special to start the season here as this is one of my ‘home’ tracks, where I started my racing career,” Reema told Gulf News from the autodrome pit-lane. “So it is a special moment to start my endurance journey here in Dubai. I’ve made no secret of my passion for endurance racing so to be kicking off my 2022 racing campaign with my first ever 24-hour race definitely feels like massive progress.”
Reema has made her name in single-seater cockpit racing and most recently was racing in the British F3 Championship during 2021. She admits endurance racing will be quite a change, in terms of time behind the wheel and also a very different style of car. Looking to the season ahead, she said: “I think I just want to take it step by step, learn everything I can from the race this weekend, take it from there and hope for the best. I want to get my head around endurance racing and get used to a car with a roof, really.
“Comparing F3 to endurance is like comparing a sprinter to a marathon runner. It is a very different ball game with a completely different strategy. It is not just about getting to the finish line fast. It is also about being smart and strategic. We also have my teammate drivers who all have a part to play and the team as a whole has a plan lined up and are looking to make the right calls at the right time. There is a lot to take in and experience, and I think it is all about learning all that I can and avoiding any mistakes.”
Already a huge name back home, Reema was an ambassador in Riyadh for the inaugural Saudi Arabian Formula One Grand Prix late last year, an occasion she still savours.
“It was a special experience,” she said. “Outside of my achievements on the track, I would say this was one experience I will always remember being part of. It was such a major event for Saudi and for me as a racing driver — being a fan of F1. The race itself opened a door to Saudis to show them a whole new sport. It was great to share that will my family friends and the Saudi audience as a whole.”
Reema is part a strong line-up team including Valentin Pierburg, runner-up in the Pro-Am class of GT World Challenge Europe, and former winner of the Am-class at the 24 Hours of Dubai, as well as George Kurtz, who has been competing successfully in GT World Challenge America for a number of years and has twice driven for SPS Automotive Performance in the 24 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps. Britain’s Ian Loggie, the reigning Pro-Am champion in the British GT Championship has a wealth of experience in GT3 racing.