Reema Juffali closes out the GT World Challenge Europe season at Circuit de Barcelona
"We came into this championship as a new team, gave it our all, showed our strengths, and came away with some good results on the way" - Reema Juffali rounded out her GT World Challenge Challenge Europe season with an 11th place in Bronze class in Barcelona, having made significant strides in her first year in the series.
Reema Juffali has brought her GT World Challenge Challenge Europe season to a close with an 11th place Bronze class finish in the final round of the Endurance Cup. Juffali’s Theeba Motorsport team have enjoyed a historic debut season in the championship, breaking new ground with impressive performances in the Sprint Cup especially.
Consistency has been their strength in the Endurance Cup, with Reema alongside teammates Alain Valente and Ralf Aron proving a formidable lineup. Despite the luck not falling their way at Barcelona, an 11th place finish highlights the competitiveness of European endurance racing and the strides the team continue to make.
Estonian driver Ralf Aron reflected on the race and commented that “It was a difficult race for us. There was a lot of action throughout the field, and there were also a lot of incidents which led to lots of Safety Car and Full Course Yellow periods. We picked up some damage after some contact quite soon into the race, and that didn’t help with our performance. But we did our best, and I’m confident that we can work forward from here.”
Reema’s landmarks achievements have come in the Sprint Cup element of the GT World Challenge Europe, with the Theeba Motorsport team coming into Barcelona targeting their best Endurance Cup result. The trio of drivers have been extremely reliable throughout the season and the first signs were positive in the pair of paid test sessions on Friday. A ninth place result in the second session was their best return from the opening day of action, with the Bronze class highly competitive as ever.
Two further practice sessions were on the Saturday’s agenda, with the first of those taking place early in the morning. This session saw Theeba Motorsport record their best class position to date, with the trio placing eighth in the Bronze class. Pre-qualifying was the final chance for the drivers to work on setup before race day. A 15th place result showcased the strong level of competition in the GT World Challenge Europe Endurance Cup and this would continue into qualifying.
Sunday morning’s qualifying session saw all three drivers take to the track in order to set their best single-lap times. Driving in Q1, it was a fast start for Alain who was eighth fastest in the Bronze class. Reema then got behind the wheel of the Mercedes AMG GT3 for the second session and placed 13th in class, a good effort considering not all teams selected their bronze rated driver for Q2. Ralf’s tenth place effort in Q3 meant that the Theeba Motorsport trio were elevated to seventh place in the Bronze class on combined times, with their consistency giving them a good grid position ahead of a challenging race to come.
Reema’s race starts have been a considerable point of improvement during the season and she once again underlined this, gaining three overall positions and maintaining seventh in the Bronze class at the end of lap one. Juffali ran as high as sixth on lap four, before contact from Andrea Cola dropping the Theeba Motorsport driver to eighth.
After a recovering Garage 59 McLaren of Henrique Chaves found a way through on lap ten, Reema ran ninth but this was not representative of the impressive speed she was displaying at a particularly demanding track. Two safety car periods late in her stint prevented Juffali from making any late progress as she handed over the Mercedes AMG to Swiss driver Alain Valente.
The pit sequence saw Theeba Motorsport drop to 12th in the Bronze class, but with a restart to come there would be opportunities to move back towards the top-10. Valente experienced a challenging stint in which he dropped to 14th by lap 45, but showed good consistency in the second half-hour to climb back into 12th position. Places within the top-10 were extremely closely contested and after handing over to Ralf Aron on lap 61, this was the immediate target for the Estonian driver.
Valente’s final stint with the team this season was affected by damage and issues with traffic, nonetheless he enjoyed teaming up with Theeba Motorsport. Alain commented that “It feels like yesterday that it started, but our season is done. Our last race wasn’t an easy one, and after a problem in the pits, we got stuck in a lot of traffic. It’s been a great honour to be a part of Theeba Motorsport’s journey in 2023 and I would like to thank the team for all of their hard work.”
Although remaining 12th in the Bronze class, Aron had gained three overall positions at the conclusion of the final pit stops and immediately looked to move forward. Misfortune then struck the Theeba Motorsport team as an extended full course yellow period saw the team trapped a lap down as a subsequent safety car was deployed, narrowly missing out on a chance to move forward in the closing stages.
This meant that Aron had little opportunity to gain back positions and instead did a superb job to negotiate the leading drivers while running highly competitive lap times. One further position was inherited by the team which saw Theeba Motorsport close out the 2023 GT World Challenge Europe Endurance Cup season with an 11th place finish.
Despite not achieving the finish they was aiming for at Circuit de Barcelona, Reema and Theeba Motorsport have made significant strides in their first year competing in GT World Challenge Europe. Claiming both a pole position and race victory in the Sprint Cup, Juffali’s development as a driver has been extremely impressive despite her relative inexperience in GT3 machinery. Reema will be aiming to further develop the team over the off-season and continue to break new ground at the highest level of GT racing.
Reema expanded on the strides taken by the team and proudly looked back Theeba Motorsport’s GT World Challenge Europe debut season. “Last race of the season and it was another tough one. We’ll learn from everything we’ve faced this season and I’m very proud of the team for their efforts. We came into this championship as a new team, gave it our all, showed our strengths, and came away with some good results on the way."
"Those results come down to their passion, and I can’t thank the team enough. Now we will look to the future.”