DUBAI: Reema Juffali has revealed her delight at making her debut for Douglas Motorsport in a topsy-turvy opening round of the 2021 BRDC British F3 Championship season at Brands Hatch.
The Corby-based team kicked off their new season with a pair of new faces behind the wheel, as Saudi Arabia’s first ever female formula driver Juffali and Scotsman Dexter Patterson headed the Douglas charge as they aimed to build on a successful 2020 season.
“It was fantastic to be back in action and to have fans in attendance made it all the more special,” Juffali told Arab News.
“The buzz across the entire weekend was really there and so was the anticipation among everyone involved for the season ahead.”
Despite starting on pole, Juffali was unfortunate to be squeezed out on the start but held onto second spot before the safety car emerged for an incident behind her. The Saudi driver held her own after the restart, before an unfortunate incident ended her race at Stirling Bend.
“In terms of racing this was the first weekend and it was very much about getting back into the groove and back into race mode,” she said.
(Reema Juffali/Douglas Motorsport)
“Racing on the full track configuration at Brands Hatch with such limited testing time, especially in the wet, was always going to be a challenge. I am fine with how it went but I always expect more from myself. But the team are really behind me, I’m learning a lot and I’m taking the positives from every experience.”
Team principal Wayne Douglas had words of encouragement for Juffali.
“Reema did well to come home with points and some valuable experience on her debut. She will only improve with track time,” he said.
Juffali also highlighted the support she received from her supporters and family back in Saudi, as well as those who made the trip to Brands Hatch.
“I had family and friends with me throughout the weekend which was important and I am now looking forward to my parents joining me for future races,” she added. “My family and friends are such a source of moral support.”
Juffali believes that the novelty of becoming Saudi’s first female racer is not something that she is at the front of her mind any more as she continues to take on her rivals on merit.
“To be honest, it’s not something I spend a lot of time thinking about,” she said.
“For sure other drivers test me out sometimes to see what I am made of – to see how far they can push me but they would do this regardless of my gender. I’m confident, I have a strong competitive spirit and I thrive on a challenge.”
“There are times I walk through the paddock and I understand that I stand out but it has never been a problem for me,” she added.
“If I am helping to change attitudes then this can only be a good thing."
However, she is happy to discuss the part she is playing in raising the profile of motorsports in the Kingdom.
“It is an exciting time for Saudi Arabia in general and I am proud to be part of that story,” said the 29-year-old.
“It’s great to know people in the country are interested in what I am doing and support me.”
Douglas Motorsport next head to Silverstone next month on June 26-27 for the next round of action, and Juffali has already set herself a significant target for the season ahead.
“I take one race at a time and the immediate goal is a top 10 finish which I would like to then maintain throughout the season,” she said.
“Then I look to top six and genuinely I want to take a podium finish at some point. It is very much about making steady progress, making the most of the opportunities and putting the hours in on and off the track to make this season all it can be.”