Kaleb Ngatoa is hoping experience will help his results in the second round of the Australian S5000 Championship at Phillip Island this weekend.
Ngatoa made his debut in the championship at the track last year, with this being the first time he has returned to a track in the S5000 car.
Since the opening round of the championship, Ngatoa has spent time with mentor Shane van Gisbergen. While his team have worked on minor issues they battled at Symmons Plains.
“I think above all I’m really looking forward to the weekend ahead as I don’t have the extra burden of learning the track,” Ngatoa said.
“My first race was here and I was fast and we’ve put the time in between rounds to good use to make a step forward. I had a really good debrief with my engineer and the team and analysed everything we could about the first round, which was a hard one for us. We found a few issues after Tasmania – just small things – but being on top of those will allow me to focus on getting to the front at Phillip Island this weekend.
“I spent a lot of time with the team – particularly the mechanics and engineers – over the break. We also had a test day out at Tailem Bend which was successful and I learned a lot.”
Ngatoa beat van Gisbergen to pole position for the New Zealand Grand Prix last year, since then the Supercar championship winner has taken an interest in the 20-year-olds career while also stepping into a mentor role.
“I went and did a day with SVG went and watched him at the Supercars event in Sydney, just watching and learning. I’ve been around the right people, been training well and fired up to have a strong weekend.”
Ngatoa has set goals heading into the second round this weekend when the S5000 field will also be introduced to a new tyre compound.
“As I can go out onto the track and immediately focus on pace, I’m aiming to make positive changes to the car during the practice sessions to help me and the team understand the new tyre. I simply want to get the most out of the car in qualifying and hopefully be up near the front. We will see what we can do in the races from there. It’s going to be exciting.”
The S5000 field will head out for the first session on Friday morning, with qualifying that afternoon ahead of three 15-lap races through the weekend.