Kaleb Ngatoa says scoring his maiden S5000 win so early into his career is an “awesome feeling”.
The 19-year-old led every lap of race two over the weekend at Sandown International Raceway, overcoming tricky wet conditions to convert pole position into a debut victory.
He became the sixth different winner this year and the first-ever Kiwi driver to reach the top step of the rostrum in S5000.
The race before witnessed Ngatoa climb onto the podium for the first time. A wise strategy call to stay on wet tyres while most of the field switched to drys meant he finished third, having started down in eighth.
Despite a shunt in the day’s final race while on his reconnaissance lap leaving a sour taste in his mouth, Ngatoa was buzzing with excitement over his first win.
“It was an awesome feeling get that first win,” Ngatoa told Velocity News.
“I had good pace and confidence in the rain and managed to bring it home in first, which was a good result for us.
“The S5000 is a cool car to drive in the rain. It has so much mechanical grip with the big tyre on the back and lots of power. It is overall a really enjoyable package in the wet.
“[The win] was a good feeling for sure, but now I need to just keep looking forward and keep looking to improve. There’s always room for improvement and learning to get faster and better in all aspects.”
The final round of this year’s championship will be at Sydney Motorsport Park in May. While not a set starter, Ngatoa is gunning to be racing back at the front once the green flag falls.
“The goal is always to be up the front, so I’ll keep learning and hopefully be able to make it to Sydney and fight up the front some more.”
Ngatoa added that the mistake he made in race three, where he crashed on his way to the grid, was a ‘rookie error’ and that he would make sure never to make the same fault again.
Still, Ngatoa walks away from Sandown with his best points haul to date. His two podiums over the weekend suggest he is now indeed a series front-runner.
The 2021 championship will draw to a close at Sydney Motorsport Park on May 1-2. A non-championship event will then be held at Bathurst in November.