The Free Press Journal - - FRONT PAGE -

In mo­tor rac­ing age 26 may be con­sid­ered “old” by to­day’s stan­dards, but, for Reema Al Juf­fali, it has been about break­ing bar­ri­ers and go­ing where no Saudi Ara­bian woman has been as in Oc­to­ber last year, she be­came the first fe­male from the king­dom to race com­pet­i­tively. She took another ma­jor step in pursuit of her dreams and pas­sion by com­pet­ing in the fi­nal round of the MRF Chal­lenge which con­cluded at the MMRT, here on Sun­day.

Hail­ing from Jed­dah, Saudi Ara­bia, Reema stud­ied and worked abroad be­fore mov­ing back home once the mo­tor rac­ing bug firmly im­planted it­self in her. It took her four years be­fore tak­ing the big de­ci­sion to pur­sue rac­ing.

At an in­for­mal me­dia in­ter­ac­tion here to­day, Reema said: “It’s been so funny as a story. I started rac­ing quite late in life and the dream came later to me, to pur­sue rac­ing af­ter I stud­ied and worked at a few things. My pas­sion has al­ways been cars and the rac­ing came along. And af­ter that, it was like I can’t avoid it (rac­ing) any­more and I wanted to pur­sue it. So, when I moved back home, I had the time and op­por­tu­nity to pur­sue rac­ing. In Oc­to­ber (2018), I had my first race in a GT 86 car in Abu Dhabi. I was happy with my per­for­mance as I fin­ished in the mid­dle of the grid. And then I won my first race in De­cem­ber. So, it’s been very quick, very fast with ev­ery­thing that has been hap­pen­ing. It’s been fan­tas­tic.

“Women started driv­ing in Saudi in June last year and my first race was in Oc­to­ber. So, it’s like okay, this is not just a big step for Saudi women, but we can also have this. I guess, I was in the right place and right time.”

When asked about choos­ing to race in MRF Chal­lenge, Reema said: “MRF were rac­ing in Dubai. At that time, I was think­ing of such groups. I spoke to a few people, I had quite a few op­tions of join­ing a few series in win­ter. But ev­ery­one rec­om­mended Chen­nai and this track (MMRT), be­cause it’s quite tech­ni­cal and the cars, some­thing much more pow­er­ful than I had driven be­fore. So, it would give me a good base. In other words, I threw my­self in the deep-end and learn­ing to swim. I am man­ag­ing and happy where I am go­ing. I am happy I came here. The con­di­tions and ev­ery­thing are quite tough and I am happy to fin­ish a 20lap race. And in terms of my fu­ture, I have to stay tuned and see what comes.

“People are still sur­prised and di­gest­ing the fact that I am not just driv­ing, but rac­ing. The hard­est thing for me was to take that first step, get­ting over the fear of not suc­ceed­ing or not pur­su­ing your fash­ion. When I took that first step, the doors opened for me. If you want to pur­sue any­thing, just go for it.”

On her fu­ture goals and am­bi­tion, be­sides be­ing a role model for other Saudi women, she said: “That comes as a plus and I happy and hum­bled to be that. Like ev­ery­one else, I have my goals, my pas­sion, I want to be­come the best racer that I can be. And com­ing into this (MRF Chal­lenge), I am putting my­self into the deep-end, get­ting tested, so that I can im­prove and grow. That’s my goal and where my fo­cus is. And the fact that I can in­spire oth­ers, it’s un­be­liev­able. That would push me to do even more.”

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