Kaleb Ngatoa is set to race the final three rounds of the VHT S5000 Australian Drivers’ Championship.
The 19-year-old has signed on to race with Team BRM at Phillip Island, Sandown and the season finale at Sydney Motorsport Park.
Philip Island will host the second round of the championship next weekend over March 13-14.
However, the fate of the weekend for Ngatoa remains Covid-19 dependent, with Auckland still classified as a red zone to most Australian states. It means he would have to self-isolate for two weeks upon arrival should these restrictions stay in place, ruling him out of the weekend’s contention.
“I’m really looking forward to coming over and racing against a group of such well-qualified drivers, in what looks like an awesome car,” Ngatoa said.
“My learning curve is going to be pretty sharp, regardless of which event we’re able to kick off at.
“Either way, it’s going to be an awesome experience.”
Ngatoa recently finished runner-up in the Castrol Toyota Racing Series. He claimed three podiums across the season and pole position for the 66th New Zealand Grand Prix.
Before that, Ngatoa spent several seasons forging his single-seater talent in Formula First and Formula Ford. He also competed in the New Zealand Toyota 86 championship and has claimed four major karting titles.
“We’re excited to have Kaleb join the team for the remainder of the championship,” said BRM team owner Mark Rundle.
“His efforts first time up in the recent TRS series were terrific so, even though he is relatively inexperienced, he should be sharp and on form.
“Phillip Island or Sandown, however it pans out, are both challenging circuits to start his S5000 career but, based on how he has performed in New Zealand, we’re confident he’ll get up to speed quickly.”
Ngatoa will become the third New Zealand driver to race in a round of the S5000. Taylor Cockerton and Tom Alexander took part in an exhibition round at Sandown back in 2019.
The inaugural championship season was meant to start last year, but was delayed until 2021 amid the pandemic.
Its opening round was at Symmons Plains in January, with Thomas Randle currently heading the standings.
“It’s terrific news that a young Kiwi is headed our way to join the S5000 series – but somewhat frustrating that NZ’s latest Covid-19 outbreak in Auckland could potentially cost him a debut at next week’s Phillip Island event,” said S5000 Category Development Manager Chris Lambden.
“We’re following it very closely, and they’re hopeful that they can make it over in time once restrictions ease. If not, he’ll be in for Sandown the week after.
“Kaleb is very well thought of over there and has the support of long-time NZ motorsport mentor and supporter Peter (‘PJ’) Johnson, who along the way was part of the support mechanism for Scott Dixon and, more recently, Brendon Hartley.
“S5000 is a logical step after TRS for New Zealand drivers, so I’m hoping he’s the first of several – especially when we announce our plans for later this year.”
Every round of this year’s S5000 championship can be seen live for Kiwi viewers on Sky Sport 5.