Reema Juffali claims her best result in British F3 to date
Having gained crucial experience in Brand Hatch, the first Saudi female driver brought home a fourth place from the British F3 Silverstone round. It's her best result in single seaters to date.
Saudi racing star Reema Juffali started her racing career relatively late due to a ban for women driving in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, but then became the first female racer to compete outside of her national borders.
Juffali has been racing primarily in the UK in some of the most competitive junior feeder series, with the aim of making up for the lost mileage and cut the gap from the more experienced drivers.
In a remarkably solid British F4 debut season in 2019, she scored ten Top-10 results for Doubl-R Racing, before switching to Argenti Motorsport the following year. She added 12 more Top-10 to her name, with a best finish of eighth in 4 occasions.
At the beginning of 2020, Juffali was also on the grid of the F4 UAE championship - a winter series that features some of the most promising drivers preparing for their European campaigns. In the UAE-based series, Juffali was eighth in the standings, scoring two 5th place as her best result.
The lady from Jeddah - who has also made history when she competed in a guest entry in the Formula E support series Jaguar I-Pace eTrophy and became the first Saudi woman to race in an international race in the Kingdom - was announced to make the step up to BRDC British F3 in 2021, in the #10 Douglas Motorsport Tatuus.
Juffali had a learning-oriented weekend at the season opener in Brands Hatch and was P15 and P16.
At the second round in Silverstone, Reece Ushijima (Hitech GP) claimed a double pole position during the qualifying, by setting the fastest times of the session. One of the protagonists of the first round, Oliver Bearman - who was two times on the podium in Brands Hatch - was missing from the round, as he raced in the Italian F4 in Vallelunga.
Reema Juffali lined up on the grid from P17 in Race 1 and P16 in Race 2.
At the start of Race 1, Ushijima swooped across the front of O'Sullivan and kept his lead. The leading duo pulled away, while Horsten was challenging Lubin for third. Horsten finally passed the Arden car and was followed by Sagrera.
The top-two had already extended their lead to almost four seconds after the first lap, due to the battle for third place occurring behind them. Meanwhile, Reema Juffali moved up two places and slotted in P15.
Lubin dropped down the order and pitted to remove grass from his car, just as Elite Motorsport's Tom Lebbon had stopped on track. Ushijima's lead had grown by almost a second. Juffali also continued her good progression and she advanced to P12 by the end of lap three. Two laps later, though, she was back to P15.
Horsten started to close the gap to the leaders after setting the fastest lap, but he couldn't go under the 2.5 second margin - before his pace finally dropped. O'Sullivan would remain the only driver in a position to unsettle Ushijima, but the leader remained unchallenged.
In the chequered flag, Ushijima crossed the line with a 0.3 lead over Zak O'Sullivan, claiming his maiden win in the series. Bart Horsten was third.
Juffali crossed the line in P13.
In Race 2, Reece Ushijima once again started from pole position. A few seconds before the lights out, Jose Garfias went off during the warm-up lap but managed to rejoin. When the cars were off the line, Ushijima kept his position, as well as Juffali. Christian Mansell had a good start and was up to fourth, but he went off seconds later.
O'Sullivan set the fastest lap while Lubin and Mansell were fighting for position; in the mid-field, Patterson had lost a place to Alvarez.
Dexter Patterson, Reema Juffali's teammate at Douglas Motorsport, fought to defend his position, which cost him his front wing in a fight with Bryce Aron. Reema Juffali started her recovery drive and moved into 16th place.
The focus switched to Mansell, Sagrera, and Connor - who were closely engaged in a fight for fifth position. Connor managed to overtake Sagrera - and then Mansell as well, who could not respond back and gave up the position. His defensive moves also cost him places, as Sagrera moved to P6.
Reece Ushijima dominated to the very end and won race two at Silverstone, ahead of Zak O'Sullivan and Roberto Faria in third. Reema Juffali crossed the finish line in sixteenth place, in another clean race for the Saudi racer.
After the race, Frederick Lubin would be given a ten second time penalty for gaining an unfair advantage over Mansell, but this penalty didn't change his final position.
Also, a strange situation involving Dexter Patterson resulted in the British driver being excluded from the race meeting. To quote the official British F3 release: "The Clerk of the Course also found that the driver of car 55 (Dexter Patterson) was guilty of contravening Motorsport UK Regulation C1.1.9 (abusive behaviour, physical assault, or threats of physical assault within the area under control of the Organising Club).
Accordingly, under Motorsport UK Regulation G5.3, the Clerk of the Course has disqualified car 55 from the meeting and issued six penalty points."
Race 3 presented Juffali with a great opportunity, as she had gained reverse grid pole position. The Saudi Arabian lady had a very good start and defended her lead coming into Turn 1. Four cars went wide at Maggots/Becketts - just as Juffali lost her lead to Marzorato on the same corner. Simmons was also on the move and grabbed third.
Having lost momentum, the female driver then found herself in the fifth position soon after - and there was more chaotic action behind. Sagregra went off at Becketts - then he pitted and rejoined at the back of the pack.
In a series of spectacular developments, Simmons took the lead, Marzorati pushed Aron off - the latter losing his front wing, which resulted in Marzorati picking up a left-rear tyre puncture.
Connor seized the opportunity to advance into second and Reema Juffali followed in third. Ushijima was battling in the midfield and tried to charge back; he moved up to seventh, showcasing great pace after his start from the last grid slot due to the reverse grid format.
Horsten collided with Danish driver Grundtvig at Brooklands; the accident took both of them out of the race and the Safety Car was called out to clear their cars, with Horsten's tyre laying on the back of Grundtvig's Fortec Motorsport.
Just before the Safety Car had been deployed, Faria had passed Juffali for the final podium spot. The restart left Juffali with four minutes to defend her best ever finish in single-seaters to date.
At the green flag, Simmons led from Connor and Faria. Thanks to the neutralization, Aron caught up with the rest of the pack after the incident at the start of the race. A fierce battle for fifth left a bit of breathing space to Reema Juffali, who sat comfortably in fourth throughout the final laps.
Drama wasn't over: Ushijima lost his seventh place in favor of Lubin following a wheel-to-wheel battle that also involveded O'Sullivan at the very end.
Chris Dittmann Racing's Ayrton Simmons won the third heat, edging Alex Connor and Roberto Faria in third.
Reema Juffali held on to fourth and thus claimed a remarkable result in her second British F3 weekend.
The Saudi Arabian driver was buzzing with energy and can't wait to race again at Donington in two week's time.
“It was an amazing way to end the weekend. To be honest, everything I’ve been putting in this weekend and all the laps in testing trying to understand the car, it all clicked finally." - she said after the weekend.
"In that final race, I put everything together and drove at a competitive pace, which gave me the confidence I needed. I want to race tomorrow! I’m ready, I’m buzzing and finally feel I can give myself a pat on the back after the work we’ve done.” - she added at the end.