ARTA’s troubled season “frustrating, annoying” for Nojiri
Honda SUPER GT driver Tomoki Nojiri admits the ARTA team's myriad problems in the series this year have been “frustrating” and “annoying” for him.
Nojiri and his teammate aboard the #8 ARTA machine, Nirei Fukuzumi, ended up finishing down in 12th overall on less than half the points tally of Honda’s other two Bridgestone-shod GT500 crews, marking the Aguri Suzuki-led team’s worst result since the 2016 season.
The only visit to the podium all year for Nojiri and Fukuzumi came in May’s second round of the season at Fuji, as the pair took a low-key win in a race shortened by Nissan driver Mitsunori Takaboshi’s terrifying crash, and only after two Toyota crews were penalised.
Besides that, only in the fourth round at Fuji did the #8 NSX-GT crack the top five as operational errors cost the team valuable points at Sugo and Autopolis.
The chances of finishing the year with a strong result at Motegi were ruined when Nojiri was spun out by the NDDP Racing Nissan of Katsumasa Chiyo at Turn 5 on the opening lap, causing him to drop to the rear of the field.
In a year in which he also became a two-time Super Formula champion, Nojiri said ARTA’s struggles made him realise his own limitations as a driver.
“There were so many races where we could have done better, but we made many mistakes that ruined or destroyed the race, and that is very frustrating,” Nojiri told Motorsport.com.
“Without that contact [at Motegi], I think we could have been close to the podium, so I feel again that we could have had a different race. But we have to aim to be in the top positions in all eight races, without making mistakes, or the championship will remain far away.
“Especially because I won the championship in Super Formula, it made me realise there are still areas where I am lacking. It’s frustrating, it’s annoying, and I feel that I can do more.”
ARTA’s dismal season also marked the final campaign for the team and its long-time service partner Servus Japan, as Nojiri's Super Formula team Mugen prepares to take over the running of the #8 car in 2023.
Nojiri says he is motivated to go for a first SUPER GT title next year and try to match Honda colleague Naoki Yamamoto’s feat of winning both of Japan’s top series in the same year.
“In Super Formula I’m aiming for a third consecutive title, but SUPER GT is SUPER GT,” he said. “I’ve never been champion, so I’ve no option but to fight hard for a first title.
“Getting a double title like Yamamoto will be really difficult, but while I am still able to have a chance, I’ll continue to aim for it.”
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