RIYADH: Theeba Motorsport founder and Saudi driver Reema Juffali said “she couldn’t be happier” after her team clinched its first victory in the Pro-Am class in the second round of the International GT Open in France.
At the Circuit Paul Ricard, Juffali and British teammate Adam Christodoulou capped off the weekend on a high as they battled to first place, and third overall, in race two after qualifying in 13th.
A day earlier, the pair had finished fifth in their class and seventh overall in race one, scoring their first solid points having taken pole position. Juffali was thrilled with how the weekend went for her team, which only launched last week.
“It’s a first overall podium for the team and first in class, so I couldn’t be happier,” she said. “I’m really proud of what we have achieved as a team in such a short space of time.
“It’s very different being purely a driver compared to a driver who manages her own team, but I think it makes it more exciting,” she added.
“Adam did an amazing job today, keeping it clean and getting us across the line despite the handicap. Now it’s about getting our head down and building on what we have achieved this weekend. I’m already ready for the next race.”
Christodoulou described the victory as the “cherry on top” of the weekend.
“As far as races go, they don’t get much better than that. We had a third overall and a win in class, so a brilliant weekend overall,” he said.
“Reema drove really well, the team were great and the car felt perfect all weekend. To fight for the win was the cherry on top.”
In race two, Juffali made short work of her rivals at the rolling start of the hour-long contest, gaining two places to move into 11th.
Opting for an early pitstop, Juffali switched with Christodoulou on lap 11, who, despite rejoining in 15th, began a superb charge up the order.
The timing of the pitstop proved perfect when the leading seven made their later stops, with the team’s undercut pushing Christodoulou up to 10th, and sixth in the Pro-Am class.
Christodoulou then moved up to fifth in class before a late push saw him complete the job to take the lead.
In the opening race, after Christodoulou managed to put the Mercedes AMG GT3 EVO onto the front row, the Briton continued his rapid pace into the start swiftly, pulling away and establishing a commanding lead over the field.
His solid work was undone by a safety car when Dino Steiner stopped on track, just several minutes before the pit window opened.
Despite the setback, he re-established a solid lead before handing over to Juffali. Having served a 20-second success penalty as a result of victory in Estoril last time out, Juffali battled hard to hold on to fifth in class and seventh overall after holding off Alain Valente.
Juffali and Christodoulou will next be in action June 18-19, when the third round of the International GT Open moves to Belgium at the Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps.