Kaleb Ngatoa gets first S5000 race win at Sandown
Marton’s Kaleb Ngatoa, 19, claimed his first international race victory at the weekend at Melbourne’s Sandown International Raceway in the S5000 class.
The S5000 series racers for the Australian Drivers’ Championship which is the top Australian open-wheel racing series. The cars are the fastest in Australian circuit racing, and the drivers are contesting the Australian Drivers’ Championship and Motorsport Australia Gold Star – the oldest and most prestigious drivers’ title in the nation.
Following an impressive debut in the S5000 Championship at Phillip Island the weekend prior, Ngatoa was expecting a strong result at his second round.
A tricky qualifying session meant Ngatoa had to start from eighth, lower than he wanted. Come the first race of the weekend, the rain was falling and Ngatoa’s team elected to put wet-weather tyres on his car.
This choice would pay dividends early in the race with a wet track allowing him to pass drivers on the dry-weather tyres and run as high as second. However, as the race progressed the track dried and Ngatoa would drop to finish in third place.
The second race of the weekend was a breakthrough for Ngatoa. After starting from pole position, Ngatoa put in a clinical drive in treacherous conditions to lead from the start. Despite challenges from much more experienced S5000 drivers, Ngatoa remained cool and displayed immense car control to lead to the chequered flag to take his first S5000 race victory.
“Overall I think it was a good weekend to show what we can do,” said Ngatoa.
“Having two podiums in our second time in the car was awesome and to get the win in one of them was even better!
“Racing against and having my two teammates as some of my hardest competitors is awesome. I’m learning so much from both of them and they both have been in the racing scene a lot longer than me and have a lot more experience so it’s awesome to have them to learn off.
“I’m looking forward to Sydney it’s another new track but I’m really excited to really get into some more training over the month break and come back best ready for the next round.
Those who make Ngatoa’s S5000 campaign possible are J&J Walters, Giltrap Group, Robbies Mechanical Services, Whanganui Toyota, The Downs Group, Delta Stock Crates, Genuine Vehicle Imports, Dempsey Wood, OCL Telecommunications, JA Russell, Carry’s Joinery and the Kiwi Driver Fund.