Kaleb Ngatoa believes his short stint in the S5000 championship significantly helped him develop and mature as a racing driver.
The young Kiwi claimed two race wins and finished ninth in the 2021 season, his first international gig.
It was an opportunity for Ngatoa to gain experience racing in a brand-new class, as well as go head-to-head against some of Australia’s most promising single-seater talents.
Back home in New Zealand, Ngatoa reflected upon an exciting three months.
“I think we had a good season in oz,” Ngatoa told Velocity News.
“We had good pace over the three weekends and got a few wins on the way, showing we have strong pace and the ability to win.
“The win in the rain at Sandown was a cool one because it was the first, and I think I showed what we could do, and I proved that.
“I didn’t really know what to expect, to be honest.
“I was going over there to work on my skills and continue learning and improving.
“But, overall, it was a really good challenge and learning experience.”
When he arrived in Australia earlier this year, Ngatoa had to learn the new class of car in his first qualifying session at Phillip Island.
He described that day as a “massive learning curve”.
In the next round, Ngatoa would pick up his first race win, and his results continued to improve over the remaining few races.
He says the experience of learning a new car, new circuits and rising to the challenge of S5000 have all helped shaped him as a driver.
“Oh, 100 per cent,” he said when asked whether he felt his driving had improved.
“The competition over there was really strong, and there were a lot of drivers on the grid with a lot more experience than me.
“So, I was learning every session taking everything on board to make me a better driver.
“I went over there focused on seat time and learning, but I also went over there wanting to win.
“We accomplished this, but I still think I had the ability and some opportunity to get better results.”
The 2021 S5000 season might be over, but there is still a realistic chance Ngatoa will be back in the car later this year.
The series will head to Mount Panorama in November for the Bathurst International, and Ngatoa hopes to be on the grid.
“Yes,” he said. “All going to plan.”