Noda secures Super Formula drive with Honda squad TGM

Euroformula Open race winner Juju Noda will contest the 2024 Super Formula season with the TGM Grand Prix team.

Juju, TGM Grand Prix

Noda will drive the #53 Honda-powered SF23 in all nine Super Formula races this year, taking the place originally occupied by Toshiki Oyu and then Riki Okusa in 2023.

The announcement makes her the first female driver to compete in Japan’s premier single-seater series since Tatiana Calderon, who drove for Drago Corse between 2020-21 but without adding a single point to her name.

Noda, who will turn 18 next month, had already got her first taste of a Super Formula car at the post-season test at Suzuka in December, where she ended up just over two seconds off the pace of the frontrunners.

Read Also:

However, she has never competitively raced in her home country prior to 2024, having spent the entirety of her professional career in Europe.

"I'm happy that I've decided to participate in Super Formula. I'm taking a big step, and I'm feeling a mixture of excitement and anxiety right now," she said.

“It's like a dream to be able to run in the same race as my seniors, who have far less experience, such as top Japanese drivers and foreign drivers who have achieved results in the world and are expected to do well in the future. I hope I can learn a lot, and I want to have fun without fear of failure.”

Juju, TGM Grand Prix

Photo by: Masahide Kamio

Juju Noda, TGM Grand Prix

Noda hopes her entry into Super Formula will promote equality in motorsport - and thus encourage more females to consider this profession. 

"I hope that this participation in the race will lead to a review of the rules to make it more equal for women, and will help dispel various negative stereotypes,” she said.

“If we can create a Super Formula that is in line with the times, where issues such as a gender-equal society and gender issues are attracting attention in today's society, I believe it will lead to further development of domestic auto racing. I will do my best to become a good role model for female racing drivers.”

TGM representative Kazuhiro Ikeda said Noda was recruited after she impressed the squad during her first two days in a Super Formula car last month.

However, Ikeda was also clear that she will have to step up a gear to race against her more experienced rivals.

“At the official test that took place the other day, she showed a performance that far exceeded our expectations,” said Ikeda.

"Juju has an extraordinary sense of speed that she has cultivated over the years, and we hope she will step up to Super Formula. She has proven that she is fully qualified.

"However, this is where the real battle begins. In order to become a true top driver, Juju herself will need to put in even more effort, including physical training, aggressiveness in racing, technical understanding, and feedback on vehicle balance.

"Of course, we are required to make efforts to further develop Juju's talent. 

“If we can use the experience and data we have cultivated through working with various players to support Juju, we will.

“The results obtained from this will be a great asset for Juju, the team, and the motorsports world. We hope that everyone will join us in supporting this dream and the challenges of the future."

Noda will dovetail her Super Formula campaign with a drive in the BossGP series in Europe.

She is the first driver to be announced by TGM for the 2024 season, with the identity of her team-mate yet to be revealed.

Both Nobuharu Matsushita and Rasmus Lindh tested for the Honda-powered squad at Suzuka last month, but it’s unclear who will get the seat that previously belonged to Cem Bolukbasi.

Bolukbasi had been hoping to continue his journey into Super Formula for a second season but it is understood that he needed to bring a substantial budget in order to retain his seat.

Read Also:
Previous article Kobayashi fastest as 32 drivers take part in Super Formula test at Suzuka