GT World Challenge lives up to its name as Theeba Motorsport battle to the finish in season-opener 

GT World Challenge lives up to its name as Theeba Motorsport battle to the finish in season-opener 

April 24, 2023
GT World Challenge Europe

The Autodromo Nazionale Monza played host to the first round of the Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe Endurance Cup. Behind the wheel of the Mercedes-AMG GT3 to contest the season-opener were Theeba Motorsport drivers Reema Juffali, Alain Valente and Ralf Aron.

A 55-car grid for Round 1 promised a competitive and closely matched field and it delivered just that. The third qualifying session of the morning was eventually abandoned due to power outages at the circuit, meaning the race start order was determined by the average across Q1 and Q2. For the #81 car, that meant a qualifying position of 12th in the bronze category.

As the lights went green, Theeba Motorsport Founder & Driver Reema Juffali was at the wheel and remained unphased by the lap one chaos, moving up to 11th when cars ahead made contact. When it came time to hand the reigns over to Alain Valente on lap 29, the team had snuck into the top ten.

Five laps after leaving the pits Alain was given the unfortunate news that the team had a drive-through penalty for a yellow flag infringement during Reema’s stint, putting a stop to the early momentum. Following the penalty, the #81 car dropped to 15th which is where it stayed for the remainder of the second stint.

Ralf Aron took over for the final stint and managed to put a sizeable dent into the advantage held by the cars ahead. In the end though, the deficit was too much to overcome, and the team crossed the line 15th in the bronze class.

Reema Juffali, Founder & Driver, Theeba Motorsport

"Round 1 in Monza is over and we can take a lot of lessons from our debut in GT World Challenge Europe. I drove the first stint and it was a chaotic start to the race – with a few Safety Cars and full course yellow flags. Unfortunately, the yellow flags caught me out and cost us time with a drive-through penalty. We were also struggling for pace, so there are quite a few things we need to take away and understand as a team – but I know will be able to work it out. It was good to get back out on track. It’s only the first round, so we have plenty of opportunities to improve. I’m already looking forward to the next round at Paul Ricard."

Ralf Aron, Driver, Theeba Motorsport

“Our first race in GT World Challenge Europe is in the books and I would be lying if I said it wasn’t a difficult one. We struggled for pace a bit – but the good thing is that the car is still in one piece after a chaotic race, with all three drivers getting plenty of track time and the team getting the opportunity to practice pit stops in a live race scenario. We gained a lot of valuable experience this weekend and will be ready to put that into use and come back stronger at Paul Ricard.”

Alain Valente, Driver, Theeba Motorsport

“That wasn’t the easiest start to our journey in GT World Challenge Europe but overall we learned a lot this weekend and there are definitely some positives to take forward into the rest of the season. We are not where we want to be performance-wise at the moment but we are working hard to progress and I’m positive we will get there. We have a great team and a good car – we just need to keep working on extracting our potential and the results will come.”

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