Rising Stars Profile Vol. 7 – Lilly Zug & Juju Noda

FIA Girls on Track – Rising Stars profile series:
Vol. 1 – Jessica Edgar & Maya Weug
Vol. 2 – Milla Sjöstrand & Doriane Pin
Vol. 3 – Ella Stevens & Kinga Wójcik
Vol. 4 – Mariana Machado & Toni Kayla Naudé
Vol. 5 – Esmee Kosterman & Astrid Almlöf
Vol. 6 – Natalia Gładysz & Tyler Robinson

In June, The FIA and its Women in Motorsport Commission announced the launch of “FIA Girls on Track – Rising Stars” program, where 20 young female drivers will participate in a selection program. The best out of the program could be awarded a one-year contract to join the Ferrari Driver Academy (FDA) programme for an FIA Formula 4 season in 2021. Currently the last round has been postponed, and the four drivers (Maya Weug, Doriane Pin, Antonella Bassani, and Julia Ayoub) are waiting for the assessment at Ferrari Drivers Academy to be rescheduled.

We are able to get in touch with two more drivers in the program, so this week, let’s continue with the FIA Girls on Track – Rising Stars profile series, and hear about the story of Lilly Zug and Juju Noda (野田樹潤).

Lilly Zug

Lilly Zug is 14 years old from Germany. She started racing when she was 8 years old. In 2017, Lilly won the national finals (ADAC Kart Bundesendlauf) in the Bambini class. This season, she has competed in OK class in South Garda Winter Cup.

Lilly is one of the 12 drivers to go through into Training Camp 1 in Rising Stars program.

© Photos provided by the Zug family

Paddock Sorority (PS): How did you get in karting? Do you still remember your first experience in a kart?

Lilly Zug (LZ): My dad was a driver for Porsche, but it was a very long time ago. One day we went to Oschersleben circuit with my dad. There was a kart race going on at the time, so my brother and I went to the karting track. We watched karting all day, it was so fascinating. My brother and I went to my dad and asked ‘could we drive one time, it was so much fun’! I was still too young at the time so I had to wait for a few years, but that was where it started.

My first time driving a kart was in Alcaniz in Spain, it was such a great feeling sitting in a kart. I was so impressed by everything.

PS: What made you decide you want a career as a professional driver?

LZ: I feel like I’ve been racing forever. It’s so much fun, the adrenaline and everything. I don’t want to stop doing this, so Formula 4 is the next step. For me, Formula 4 and single-seaters are so different from other forms. I can sit in a fast car every day. But single-seaters are something completely different from a normal car.

PS: Who have you learned the most from about driving and racing?

LZ: I learned the most in the last few years. I grew a lot and got more mature. Now I understand more than when I was in Mini. I also learned a lot from my brother and the principal of my school who was a driver himself when he was younger.

PS: Your whole family are involved in your career, tell us how they support you.

LZ: My mom always helps me to prepare for my races. My dad goes to the races and tests with me all the time. My brother is for me a great inspiration. He’s already progressed so far in motorsport.

PS: What has been your best memory in your career so far?

LZ: All the races in Italy are special for me. It’s always in great condition to drive in Italy and there are so many professional drivers. When I was in Mini, I did a season of WSK to prepare myself for the German season. It was so great to race against those kids at that time. You probably learned the most racing in Italy.

PS: Has there been any challenges/difficulties in your career? How did you overcome it?

LZ: Last year I was in OKJ. I was unlucky and had a lot of technical problems. I finished only four or five races and retired from the others because of technical problems. In days like that, it’s important to have your family around you to support you. My family really helped my through that time.

PS: What are your strengths as a driver? If you want to keep going up the ladder, what do you need to still work on?

LZ: For me personally I think I can be mentally stronger than others, it also comes partially from last season which was very difficult. I learned to control my emotions. I probably still need to work on the physical stuff. Racing requires a lot of muscle strengths, so I need to work on the most.

PS: What has been your biggest takeaway from the selection process?

LZ: I learned so much from the sessions. We also had workshops for press conference and media stuff. It helped me so much to be more comfortable talking to the media. We also did so many things on the mental side which helped me a lot too.

PS: Were you nervous before getting to Paul Ricard? Was the shoot-out and training camp as expected?

LZ: I wasn’t very nervous, until we got to the track. I saw all the girls, I only knew four of them. I didn’t know how fast they are, so I got a bit excited. We didn’t know we would be driving OKJ, but apart from that there weren’t really any surprises.

PS: Do you have any hobbies outside of racing?

LZ: I love swimming. But I don’t have that much time for things other than going to the gym and preparing myself for races. I’m in a private sporting school. I have school till 5pm, then I go home and do my gym work and school work. I don’t have that much time for hobbies.

Lilly testing F4 with Mucke Motorsport

PS: You have tested F4 in July, has the plan for 2021 been set yet?

LZ: I still plan to do F4 in 2021, we aren’t sure which championship yet though. There is great competition everywhere. For my original plan of doing F4 UAE in the winter, there is still some difficulties with my age. When I turn 15 in February, half of the season would already be over. We are not sure yet.

Juju Noda (野田樹潤)

Juju Noda is 14 years old from Japan. She is one of the two drivers from Asia in the Rising Stars program.

Juju started karting when she was 3 and started racing when she was 4. She broke Okayama circuit record when she was 10 years old. In the 2020 season, Juju is competing in the Renault F4 Danish Championship and won in her debut race.

Juju is one of the 8 drivers to go through into Training Camp 2 in Rising Stars program.

© Photos provided by Hideki Noda

Paddock Sorority (PS): Since your dad is also a successful and famous driver, was he the reason you are in motorsport or did you end up on this path through other opportunities?

Juju Noda (JN): Yes, my father was still racing at the time when I was a kid. So I came to like racing and became interested in driving one of those fast cars.

He gave me my first racing kart for kids.

PS: Do you remember your first experience in a go-kart when you were 3? How was it?

JN: I just loved driving and going fast, especially racing with others. It was really fun!

PS: From whom did you learn the most about racing and driving, if not your dad?

JN: Mostly, from my experiences day by day. Of course, my father supports me a lot but he doesn’t tell me everything about what I need to do. He gives me the opportunity to learn and think by myself. It is easier to find out what the answer is from someone. But it may not be the right answer and it is important to think and find out things by oneself.

PS: Coming from a motorsport family, is there extra pressure on you as a driver or do you get more motivated? You’ve received a lot of media attention since you were very young, has that ever been difficult to deal with?

JN: It is great to be followed by friends, fans and media and also to work with sponsors. I find myself being more motivated in that way. It also has to be this way to become a professional driver. If you cannot handle that kind of pressure, you will face difficulties in the future anyway.

PS: What has been your best memory in your career so far?

JN: I really enjoyed the kids kart races! I used to travel together for racing and practice with my family and other kid drivers. I also enjoyed breaking the lap record of Okayama International Circuit of F4 & F3N class.

PS: You are racing in Denmark, how do you fit in the everyday life in Europe outside of the circuit and paddock? Since your family are with you, do you still miss home and Japan?

JN: It has been a difficult year. Because of COVID-19, I was forced to stay home more often. I wanted to go to school in Denmark a lot more than I was able to and also to study many kinds of different cultures. I also really wanted to learn more English. 

Of course, I miss my friends and my school in Japan. But at least my family is here with me and that helps a lot for my mentality.

PS: You’ve been impressive in your first F4 season, has there been any challenges for you adapting to F4?

JN: It was a challenge to race something very new in another country. Everything was a new experience for me. Things such as the cars, the circuits, different regulations and the Danish language, etc. But I always believe if you try your best, the way to success will come to you. 

PS: Since you are the only driver with real F4 racing experience in the program, what do you think is your biggest strength/advantage compared to the other drivers?

JN: I am not sure, to be honest. Some of the drivers have experience testing Formula cars and they are competitive in racing karts, which means they have talent. I will just do my best and see where I am.

PS: Do you have any hobbies outside of racing?

JN: I love animals. I really like spending time with them.


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