Danish F4: An impressive First Weekend for Juju Noda
The youngest Japanese racing star Juju Noda won her first ever race in Europe. At just 14 years of age, she made her debut in the Danish F4 and dominated the weekend's headlines despite a couple of hitches along the way.
It was her first race in Europe - and she won it. 14-year old Japanese Juju Noda made her highly anticipated debut in the Danish F4 at Jyllandsringen last weekend, and she did lived up to expectations.
At the age of 3, she sat in a kart for the first time and as a 4-year old she won at her debut. One year later she became champion in the 30cc and 40cc classes; at the age of nine she got the chance to test a Formula 4 car and she started to attract the world's attention. And her record-breaking journey had just begun: at the age of 11 she drove a Formula 3 car for the first time on the Okayama Circuit.
Last weekend it was the highly anticipated racing debut in Europe for Noda - and it was an impressive one. In the first race she started from pole position after Conrad Laursen's fastest lap was cancelled after he had set his best lap under yellow flag conditions. Noda defended her leadership against Laursen firstly, before she was able to gain a sufficient gap to cross the finish line as race winner.
In the second race she started from eighth position because of the reverse grid format for the first 8 finishers. At the start, she passed three F5 cars and after a Safety Car phase she overtook another three competitors at the restart and scored a podium with a second place. Unfortunately, she was disqualified from the race result for "unregistered tyres" during the race. A costly administrative mistake which will not take away her impressive show.
The penalty meant that she lost her third starting place for race 3 as well, and the young driver had to line up from 12th position. At the start Noda passed four cars and moved up more places throughout the race to finish in fourth place. With the race ending behind the Safety Car, she didn't get the chance to pass Mads Hoe for the third place, but was nonetheless classified third in class (with Hoe racing in the F5 category).
With her disqualification in race 2, Juju Noda is 4th in the championship standings with 37 points, 21 points behind leader Laursen, at 58 points. She will be fighting at the next round at Jyllandsringen again on 21 - 23. August.
The Danish F4 is a mix of F4 and F5 cars (lighter, H-pattern gearboxes), with a decently packed grid of mixed-experience drivers. But it is currently one of the few F4 championships allowing drivers under the age of 15, giving the daughter of the former F1 driver the perfect platform for a European debut. It was a highly impressive debut for Juju and her Noda Racing team outside of the native Japan, where she is regarded as the next racing sensation.
In the F5 classify, two other girls competed at the Danish racing venue of Jyllandsringen: Line Sønderskov (P14/P12/P11) and Mille Hoe (DNS/P14/P12) both had good races in the Danish F4 season opener.