Nojiri became the first back-to-back series champion since Tsugio Matsuda in 2008 at the penultimate round of the season on Saturday when he finished second to Mugen teammate Ukyo Sasahara.

He then finished the year in style on Sunday with a dominant pole win, ending a barren streak that stretched back to April’s opening weekend of the season at Fuji Speedway.

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With six poles and eight poles in 10 races, Nojiri has achieved a level of consistency his rivals can only dream of. His worst result of the year was a pair of fourth places. 65 points ahead of his nearest rival Sasha Fenestraz in the final table.

“The tires have changed a bit this season and during qualifying for the opening round I thought ‘this year could be tough,'” said Nojiri, referring to the fact that he finished sixth in the first race using the new tire Yokohama. construction rear tire.

“But the team did a great job to recover, we won from pole in Round 2 and that set the tone for the rest of the season.

“Since then, the team has never made a mistake. I don’t think we could have had a better season than the wonderful one we had.

“Winning the championship feels so great, I want it [the trophy] can be mine forever! I want to relive it as many times as I can.”

Reflecting on second place behind Sasahara in Saturday’s title-clinching opening race, Nojiri admitted he didn’t want to make life too difficult for his team-mate when he went through the hairpin.

Nojiri led Sasahara in the first stint, but the latter went out first on 10 of the 31 laps, and after Nojiri’s pit stop, Sasahara was able to catch up quickly in the first sector before making the race-winning move.

“I was one lap later, so I knew there was a risk of being hit,” Nojiri said. “I didn’t want to ruin the tires by pushing too hard until they got to the right temperature, so I didn’t overdo it.

“I didn’t think he would come at me so quickly, but at the same time I didn’t want to bother him. I thought it was normal for the faster rider to win the race.”

Nojiri went on to describe his title triumph as a “weight off his shoulders”, saying he felt the pressure of expectations in 2022 more than when he won his first title last year.

But as he bids to become the first man to win three top-flight Japanese Formula One titles in a row since Satoru Nakajima in 1984-86, he admits he will feel pressure to do an even better job next year.

After such a great season, these results might be difficult for me next year, Nojiri admitted. – I have to become a version of myself that can surpass even these results.

“That’s what you have to do as a driver and if I can’t, I won’t be able to win a third title in a row and I won’t have a future as a driver, so I will continue to do my best to fight hard next season.”

Additional reporting by Kenichiro Ebiya

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