The car was the Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo and the driver that morning was Reema Juffali, taking the wheel for the second qualifying session of the GT World Challenge Europe Sprint Cup event in the Rhineland.
It was both Reema’s and Theeba Motorsport’s first season in this level of competition, racing against some of the most established and revered GT teams on the planet. The team had already shown competitive pace during the weekend – Reema and Mercedes-AMG factory driver team-mate Fabian Schiller finishing fifth in class in Saturday’s race.
That was a solid result, but there was scope for more to come. In the qualifying, a short, sharp session with little time to complete more than just a handful of quick laps, came a time of 1 minute 38.699 seconds, which topped Theeba’s class for race two. It was a fantastic performance, and in doing so Reema became the first woman to secure a pole position for GTWCE’s Sprint Cup.
Reema explains herself how the result came about.
“The nice thing is that it was one of the first times I really felt that I was relaxed and calm in the car,” she highlighted. “Just by driving it as I felt that I needed to, that's how the pole came about. I didn't feel like I was pushing the car. It was just understanding where the limit was and driving to that and it was such a nice experience because, in qualifying, you're there and you want to achieve that best lap and that one lap that you could do in that moment. Hockenheim was really everything coming together at the right time in the in the right way. I came out of the car quite calm and I just felt in the flow which was really cool.”
“I knew we were going to be competitive; the week leading up to before qualifying, we were only finding more in the car, and I felt we were quite dialled in. It was just a matter of me getting the timing right, making sure that I was taking everything I've learned that from the days before and applying it. It really did feel quite calm, almost quiet.
“I didn't feel like I made any mistakes, everything really came together that lap, and it's rare that you feel, ‘okay, that's everything I have’, usually you always come out of the car thinking ‘I could have done this better, or that could have been a bit different’. Maybe now in hindsight, I could have maybe come out and said, ‘oh, I could have gotten two or three tenths here’. I don't remember the exact detail, but it felt like as good as I could have done it.”
Expanding further on how she feels she has developed as a driver in 2023, Reema explains that “in terms of how I've really come along as a driver, being in this environment of having one mistake or having any one thing going wrong can really set you back – whether it's in a pitstop or timing or anything else.
“I think that really shows the level of drivers that are there in the championship, and I really felt that with my team-mates and the other drivers, they really allowed me to push myself and want to improve and want to be as consistent as possible. Thankfully, that pole position did come along when everything fell into place, as you would like it to every weekend, but it doesn't always happen that way.”