Saudi female racer Reema Juffali set for F4 UK championship debut at Brands Hatch

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Trailblazing Saudi Arabian racing driver Reema Juffali is set to make her Formula 4 British Championship Debut at Brands Hatch in the UK at the weekend. (Jakob Ebrey Photography/Formula 4)
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Trailblazing Saudi Arabian racing driver Reema Juffali is set to make her Formula 4 British Championship Debut at Brands Hatch in the UK at the weekend. (Jakob Ebrey Photography/Formula 4)
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Trailblazing Saudi Arabian racing driver Reema Juffali is set to make her Formula 4 British Championship Debut at Brands Hatch in the UK at the weekend. (Jakob Ebrey Photography/Formula 4)
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Trailblazing Saudi Arabian racing driver Reema Juffali is set to make her Formula 4 British Championship Debut at Brands Hatch in the UK at the weekend. (Jakob Ebrey Photography/Formula 4)
Updated 04 April 2019

Saudi female racer Reema Juffali set for F4 UK championship debut at Brands Hatch

  • Juffali, 27, will be racing for defending champions Double R Racing
  • Juffali, on debut, was one of only three women in the GCC to hold a race licence

LONDON: Saudi Arabian racing driver Reema Juffali is set to make her Formula 4 British Championship debut at Brands Hatch at the weekend.

Juffali, 27, will be racing for defending champions Double R Racing with her teammates Louis Foster and Sebastian Alvarez.

Having made her debut in racing in October 2018, a few months after the Kingdom lifted the ban on women driving and started issuing licences in June of the same year, Jeddah-born Juffali said she was excited about the coming year ahead.

“In terms of being from Saudi Arabia, it’s such a great thing for me to do and represent my country,” she said, highlighting her pride at representing Saudi Arabia. She also thanked her family, friends and fans for their support thus far.

“It’s a great honor for me. It’s something I didn’t really think about until quite late in life, I want to say maybe about three or four years ago that I started thinking about the idea of racing. To be here today is quite unbelievable and to have done it in such a short space of time, I’m very grateful and happy about that," she told the British F4 website.

“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.

“Brands Hatch is the heart of motorsport. It’s going to be a tough year in such a competitive championship, but I’m ready for the challenge,” she added.

Juffali, who studied in the US before moving back to the Kingdom, was announced as Double R Racing's latest addition to the team in March – and having joined the UK-based set-up, she said: “I’m happy to be joining Double R Racing, a championship-winning team with such a great history, and to be competing in British F4 where many great drivers have started."

Juffali was one of only three women in the GCC to hold a race licence on her debut and the first Saudi female to compete in the TRD 86 Cup at the Yas Marina circuit in Abu Dhabi.

Team principal Anthony Hieatt said: “We’re really looking forward to working with Reema in British F4 this year and delighted she’s joined Double R for her first full season of racing at any level.

“I know there’s a huge amount for her to learn – the car, the style of racing and all of the British tracks which are very unique – but Reema has shown a great deal of promise already.

“It’s fantastic to be working with someone who is breaking down barriers as Reema is, and has been over the past few months, since she decided to start racing.”

The F4 championship is a multi-event, open-wheel single seater championship held at various racetracks across the UK between April and October.


Thiem into ATP Finals semis as Djokovic and Federer face shootout

Updated 24 min 41 sec ago

Thiem into ATP Finals semis as Djokovic and Federer face shootout

  • Austrian fifth seed took fight to the world No. 2, recovering from losing the first set to triumph

LONDON: Dominic Thiem produced a scintillating display of attacking tennis to beat Novak Djokovic and qualify for the last four at the ATP Finals on Tuesday, leaving the Serbian facing a shootout against Roger Federer.

In the standout match so far at London’s O2 Arena, the Austrian fifth seed took the fight to the world No. 2, recovering from losing the first set to triumph 6-7 (5/7), 6-3, 7-6 (7/5)

Earlier, Federer put himself back in the mix at the end-of-season event with a 7-6 (7/2), 6-3 win against Italian debutant Matteo Berrettini in their round-robin clash.

Federer and Djokovic will face off on Thursday in a repeat of this year’s Wimbledon final to determine who else will progress from Group Bjorn Borg.

Thiem was forced to play high-stakes tennis against the 16-time Grand Slam winner, taking the breath away with some of his inside-out forehands and single-handed backhands

Forced to play at his limit, he hit 50 winners compared with Djokovic’s tally of 27 but also racked up 44 unforced errors.

“This was really one of these special matches, what I’ve practiced all my life for, all my childhood for,” Thiem said.

“Really epic one in an amazing atmosphere, beating a legend of our game. And also I’ve qualified for the semifinals, which is the best.

“Coming back from 1-4 (down in the deciding tie-break) was a little bit of luck, but it was an unbelievable match and one I’ll never forget. Novak is the best player in the world and I had to do something special.”

In a captivating first set the players swapped a break apiece but Djokovic, a five-time ATP Finals champion, edged the tie-break.

Undaunted, Thiem broke his opponent at the first opportunity in the second set and, with Djokovic’s error count climbing, went on to level the match.

Thiem also drew first blood in the decider but cracked in the sixth game as Djokovic levelled the match and appeared to have engineered a switch in momentum.

The Austrian successfully challenged at 30-30 in the 10th game after his forehand was ruled out, preventing a match point for Djokovic and he toughed it out to level at 5-5.

He then broke Djokovic to love to earn a chance to serve for the match but stumbled and the decider went to a tie-break.

Still the drama was not finished. Thiem slipped to 4-1 down but battled back to win it on his second match point when Djokovic dumped a forehand into the net.

Third seed Federer had put himself under the cosh by losing his opening round-robin match to Thiem. The six-time champion was not at his fluent best on Tuesday but ultimately had too much for his Italian opponent.

The Swiss upped his game to take the first set tie-break comfortably and broke immediately at the start of the second set to leave the big-serving Berrettini with too much to do.

Federer was asked after his win against Berrettini whether his defeat to Djokovic at Wimbledon had left emotional or mental scars.

“We’ll find out, but I think it’s all flushed away from my side,” said the Swiss.

“A lot of water has gone under the bridge since then.”

Djokovic is hunting a sixth ATP Finals title to pull level with Federer’s record and is also seeking to pip Rafael Nadal to the year-end number one ranking.

On Monday, top seed Nadal lost his opener in Group Andre Agassi to defending champion Alexander Zverev while Stefanos Tsitsipas beat Daniil Medvedev.