Marton’s Kaleb Ngatoa, 19, has finished his first-ever Toyota Racing Series in an impressive second-place overall.
The Toyota Racing Series, commonly referred to as ‘TRS’, is New Zealand’s highest level of motorsport. The series is world-renowned as a breeding ground for future international motorsport champions with 18 drivers graduating to drive Formula 1 since its inception in 2005.
After a career highlight New Zealand Grand Prix pole position in the opening round, and an impressive showing in round two, Ngatoa was keen to secure a top-two finish at his home track of Manfeild at the weekend.
This season’s championship finale would be a bit busier than usual with four races set to take place over the weekend instead of the usual three. Also on the line, aside from the TRS title, were the Denny Hulme and Dan Higgins memorial trophies.
On Saturday morning’s first race, held over 22-laps, Ngatoa started from the front row and held onto second-place throughout the race. It was a similar story in the race two, 27-laps in distance, as Ngatoa started third and finished third.
Unhappy with the direction of the car setup, Ngatoa opted to make dramatic setup changes overnight for one final shot a pair of race wins to challenge for the championship.
Ultimately these changes did not help and Ngatoa finished in fourth and fifth in the final two races, but still high enough to secure him second in the championship, well clear of the third-placed driver.
“I think the season went pretty well for us,” said Ngatoa.
“We learnt a lot which we will take forward into the future and while we obviously wanted to get the one spot higher on the point table, I’m sure we will be able to come back and get that one in the future.
“It was surreal to race in the Toyota Racing Series this year, it’s what every young driver aspires to do in NZ. I must thank all my sponsors for making it possible, including the Kiwi Driver Fund.
”I have to thank my team too for all their handwork. My engineer Aaron and all the boys work so hard for us.
“I’m really looking forward to what the future holds for us, we’re already looking and planning for the next opportunity, whatever that may be.”