Juju Noda’s maiden Euroformula victory at Paul Ricard was a special moment for both her and Noda Racing’s team owner-cum-proud father Hideki.
The former Formula 1 racer runs his 17-year-old daughter in his own team, which is a small one-car operation.
A collision between leaders Noel Leon and Francesco Simonazzi in race one of the weekend promoted Noda to third. She was quick to react, passing Cian Shields for the lead before the safety car was deployed. When racing resumed she managed the gap to her pursuers from Motopark and its satellite CryptoTower squad to become Euroformula’s first female winner.
Immediately after the podium ceremony, a still emotional and exhausted Noda told Formula Scout: “I can’t believe it. I’m speechless but I am really, really happy.”
“I really appreciate my team, my family, my sponsors, my fans – without them I am not here.”
She admitted to being surprised to suddenly find herself out front – “at the time, I felt ‘am I really leading this race?’”.
“My pace was very fast [and] I thought I will win the race during the race. But before this weekend I didn’t expect this result,” she commented, while her father admitted to being far less relaxed during the race.
“To be honest, I was very nervous,” he laughed. “I never felt a race that was so long.”
For the older Noda, seeing his daughter lead a phalanx of red Motopark cars across the line was an important milestone in the team’s development.
“With our limited preparation and limited budget, I thought we would never be able to win against Motopark,” he told Formula Scout.
“Motopark is a giant team and they have a lot of experience and I really think that they are one of the best teams in Europe.
“With a family team, [I asked myself], ‘how can I achieve this result?’, But we did it. It’s all down to Juju, she drove superb race today and she made no mistakes. I’m really proud of her.”
Noda’s victory may have been her first in Euroformula, but she has already won three times this year in the Austrian Formula 3 Cup, winning once at Mugello and twice at Spa-Francorchamps, in the same Dallara 320 chassis.
Naturally, her proud father, himself a winner in third-tier single-seaters in British F3 in 1991, is not unbiased. But what does he think his daughter can achieve in motorsport?
“Of course, she [would] like to go on to a higher level,” he says. “I don’t know. In the future, probably people start to expect [her to] try to be a Formula 1 driver but you never know.
“We just try to do the best we can. To be a F1 driver it’s not just speed, it’s many things. But if we give up, it [will] never happen. We try to break through.
“It would be nice if she drives in F1. It’s a long time since a woman drove in F1. Why not, if we don’t try?”