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Nojiri unsure which overseas category would excite him

Two-time Super Formula champion Tomoki Nojiri has clarified his remarks about wanting to race overseas in future, admitting he isn’t sure which category could appeal to him.

Tomoki Nojiri, TEAM MUGEN

Nojiri said in the wake of last month’s Suzuka finale that the exploits of his title rivals Ritomo Miyata and Liam Lawson on the world stage - as well as Ryo Hirakawa’s Formula 1 testing deal - had put the idea of racing abroad back on his radar.

Excluding SUPER GT’s former annual trip to the Buriram circuit in Thailand, Nojiri last raced outside of Japanese shores when he contested a Formula BMW Pacific race on the streets of Macau back in 2011.

Although he has never done a full season of car racing outside of Japan, he did spend a season in Italy as a teenager with karting manufacturer Tony Kart.

Speaking to Motorsport.com about the possibility of venturing abroad again, Nojiri said he remains to be convinced that he would get more satisfaction from racing in any category overseas than he gets out of Japan’s top two championships.

“Reading the comments of the fans that read the article, I realised just how many people think that I should race overseas!” Nojiri said. 

“But the important thing for me is whether there is an overseas category that makes me think I want to race there. 

“Honestly speaking, there are a lot of categories where I struggle to understand where the attraction is, and at the same time [Super Formula and SUPER GT] are very competitive and attractive to me. 

“If you look overseas, F1 clearly stands out and is loved by fans all over the world. But other than that, I don’t think the level is hugely different from Japanese categories.

“For example, looking at it from Japan, IndyCar may look like an amazing category, but in Super Formula the cornering speeds are higher, and if you asked me how much of an impression it would make on me… I think it's not much different from staying in Japan. 

“I think there’s a bit of a discrepancy between what the fans think about IndyCar and what we [as drivers] think.”

Nojiri will continue to race in Super Formula next season as he aims to wrest back the crown he lost to TOM’S driver Miyata this year, while he will also spearhead Honda’s quest to win the SUPER GT title with the all-new Civic Type R-GT.

With his commitment to racing in both of Japan’s top two categories apparently undimmed, the 34-year-old admits that those hoping for him to race full-time outside of Japan may end up disappointed.

“I’m not sure if I can live up to the expectations of those who want me to race overseas,” Nojiri admitted. “But I want to continue moving up to a higher level step-by-step, and if some kind of new challenge comes in my direction, I think I should take it on.

“At this stage though, I don’t know exactly which category can appeal to me, so honestly I would like someone to tell me!”

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