W Series announces that Bianca Bustamante and Juju Noda will race for the W Series Academy Team during the 2022 season.
The two youngest drivers on the grid this year, Bianca (PHI, 17) and Juju (JPN, 16) will compete in W Series for the next two seasons as part of the W Series Academy programme, which supports the development of young female talent across all motorsport disciplines. The pair will have dedicated engineers throughout the season, and receive intensive mentoring and coaching to hone their driving skills and race craft. They will be supported with fitness, nutrition, and media training advice, and will also support W Series at official media events and community outreach programmes which will help their self-promotion and personal development.
Bianca, from Laguna, Philippines, burst on to the karting scene aged five, and became a three-time Philippines Karting Driver of the Year, two-time Asian Junior Karting Open champion, four-time China Grand Prix Kart Scholarship winner, and three-time Macau International Kart GP champion. She was awarded an FIA Girls on Track Rising Stars scholarship in 2021, before being invited to take part in a test for prospective W Series drivers in Arizona, USA, at the start of this year.
Juju, from Tokyo, Japan, started racing karts aged three and had driven an F4 car before she was 10. Two years later, she drove an F3 car for the first time and, aged 14, she joined the 2020 Danish F4 championship, winning a race and scoring three more podium finishes. Juju made her debut in a W Series car at the 2022 pre-season test at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, Spain, in February, and at 16-years-old will be the youngest-ever driver to race in W Series.
Bianca and Juju will make their W Series debut in the Academy Team cars – with branding from Acronis who will continue as W Series’ Global Cyber Protection and Security Partner this year – at Formula 1’s Miami Grand Prix on May 6-8. W Series will stage support races at eight F1 weekends during the 2022 season, which includes the series’ first-ever round in Asia at the Japanese Grand Prix in Suzuka in October.
Dave Ryan (Racing Director, W Series) said:
“W Series aims to give opportunities to the most talented female racing drivers in the world, and we have been tracking the progress of Bianca and Juju for some time now. We knew they had raw skill but, since joining us and working with the team at this year’s pre-season tests, they’ve also shown consistency in the car and a willingness to learn. We’ve put our faith in them by giving them W Series race seats for two years and dedicated race engineers, and it’s now up to them to repay it by continuing to work hard. If they do so, they have every chance of going on to achieve great things with W Series and further up the motorsport ladder.”
Bianca Bustamante, 17, Philippines (W Series Academy Team) said:
“I’m thrilled to be part of the W Series Academy this season. It’s a dream come true and I’m still pinching myself. All my life, I’ve had my sights set on Formula 1, and now my racing career has taken a big step in the right direction thanks to W Series. There’s still a lot of work to do, and every day I’m learning because everything is still new to me. I’ve enjoyed every moment so far learning what it takes to become a professional driver, and I’m going to give it my all both on and off the track.
“I never knew what training meant until I spent the last few weeks with W Series’ professional trainers, but I’m making big gains in both my physical strength and mental focus. I’m also super excited to be team-mates with Juju this year, and my hope is that, together, we can demonstrate to the world what the next generation of racing drivers from Asia can do. It’s been a whirlwind, and I’m looking forward to a couple of weeks at home in the Philippines before my W Series debut in Miami in May.”
Juju Noda, 16, Japan (W Series Academy Team) said:
“I’m still young, but I’ve already been racing for a long time and I’m ready to take the next step in my career with W Series. I’ve watched lots of W Series races in the past and the standard is very high, so this is a great opportunity and I really like what W Series is trying to do for females in motorsport. Everything is new to me with these cars so I wasn’t sure what to expect, but the pre-season testing helped me get up to speed and I’ve been training hard physically and mentally to prepare myself.
“I don’t feel pressure, I just want to do well, and I appreciate all the support that people give me. I can’t wait to start the season in Miami, and I’m obviously looking forward to racing in front of my home crowd at the Japanese Grand Prix in October. I’ve never raced at Suzuka before, so that will be a very special weekend and I’ll be giving it everything.”
W Series’ 2022 driver line-up and team pairings are as follows. The 18th and final slot on the grid, as well as the roster of 2022 W Series reserve drivers, will be announced in due course.
Click2Drive Bristol Street Motors Racing W Series Team: Alice Powell (UK, 29) and Jessica Hawkins (UK, 27)
CortDAO W Series Team: Fabienne Wohlwend (LIE, 24) and Marta Garcia (ESP, 21)
Jenner Racing: Jamie Chadwick (UK, 23) and Chloe Chambers (USA, 17)
Puma W Series Team: Emma Kimiläinen (FIN, 32) and Tereza Babickova (CZE, 18)
Quantfury W Series Team: Nerea Martí (ESP, 20) and Belén García (ESP, 22)
Racing X: Abbi Pulling (UK, 19) and Bruna Tomaselli (BRA, 24)
Scuderia W: Sarah Moore (UK, 28)
Sirin Racing: Beitske Visser (NED, 27) and Emely De Heus (NED, 19)
W Series Academy Team: Bianca Bustamante (PHI, 17) and Juju Noda (JPN, 16)