Reema Juffali drives to F4 best career finish in P6
Saudi driver Reema Juffali claimed her best F4 result with sixth in Sunday's F4UAE race in Abu Dhabi, as Amna Al Qubaisi was taken out while in the lead.
Saturday at Yas Marina will be remembered for years as the day when Amna Al Qubaisi stood on the big step of the podium, as the 19-year old Emirati girl became the first woman to win a formula race in a FIA event.
The non-championship Formula 4 UAE race at Abu Dhabi already made headlines after releasing its entry list: one third of the entrants were in fact female racers, with local sisters Amna and Hamda Al Qubaisi being joined on the grid by Saudi Reema Juffali and Scot Logan Hannah. A first for motorsport in the region.
While the Formula 1 stage was certainly a big platform for the drivers, it also added to the pressure of performing under the eyes of the biggest racing series in the world. Even more so for the two home girls, who raced for the first time on home soil.
“Well done to Amna Al Qubaisi who has come a long way since karting and winning the first FIA GCC Young Drivers Academy to now win in F4" - commented Mohammed Ben Sulayem, President of the Emirates Motorsports Organization and FIA Vice President for Sport.
"I’m proud of her achievements and for being very successful in front of everyone at the Formula 1 grand finale. We believe she is a future international champion in the making.”
Amna made her Country proud and was looking forward to a back-to-back race 2 victory on Sunday, when the young lady was taken out from the lead after a contact with Italian F4 regular Nicola Marinangeli on the opening lap.
Marinangeli, starting second, initiated an overtaking move, resulting in a race-ending contact that broke the right-rear suspension of the Abu Dhabi Racing by Prema car.
Marinangeli rejoined with a damaged car, but was later forced to retire as well.
This was not the first incident between F4 rookie Marinangeli and Al Qubaisi, as the two drivers had previous episodes in the Italian F4.
Alex Connor thus inherited the lead, followed by Jordanian Hijjawi. Tijmen Van Der Helm was third, but could not challenge Hijjawi to complete a 1-2 for Xcel Motorsport.
Amna's younger sister Hamda, starting from 5th on the grid, picked up front wing damages in a separate contact and dropped to the back of the field, but was able to reach the chequered flag in only her third ever F4 weekend and was classified 11th.
Connor, after a season in British F4, crossed the line to claim his first sigle-seater win for Xcel Motorsport, the team that started his karting career in Dubai. Hijjawi and Van Der Helm were second and third, completing the podium positions for the second race.
Göhler held on to finish fourth ahead of Rodrigo Almeida, with Saudi Reema Juffali completing a remarkable drive to finish sixth. It was her best ever result in single-seaters after a solid debut season in British F4.
"It's been a great day, I started 12th and I managed to finish 6th, which I am really really happy about." - said Reema after the event.
"It was a tough race, I had a few moments, but I managed to keep my position and hold it. It's been my best finish in F4 so I'm really proud of that. More to come, looking at the podium now." - she added.
Logan Hannah was ninth after two positive races, influenced by technical troubles on Friday that limited her track time.
Formula 4 UAE, now in its third season, confirmed itself as one of the most interesting F4 winter opportunities for junior drivers. The series will effectively start its point-scoring rounds in January, supporting the 24 Hours of Dubai, UAE.
Photo credits: F4UAE Media