Ngatoa tops practice for New Zealand Grand Prix


Kaleb Ngatoa topped practice for the 67th New Zealand Grand Prix. Picture: Bruce Jenkins

Kaleb Ngatoa has finished on top of the timesheets in practice ahead of the 67th New Zealand Grand Prix at Hampton Downs International Motorsport Park.

In his maiden outing in the Formula Regional Oceania Championship, Ngatoa blasted a 1:29.700s in Practice 2, edging out Louis Foster by 0.390s who set a 1:30.090s, with Kiwi Motorsport competitor and title contender Jacob Abel third-fastest with a 1:30.163s on combined times.

The Kiwi was the only driver to lap under the 1:30s benchmark in the only dry session of the day, with Practice 1 held in wet conditions.

“We’re just working on set-up and making small gains here and there and we’ll continue that process as we build towards qualifying,” Ngatoa said.

His arrival in the category follows a full-time campaign in the S5000 Australian Drivers’ Championship in 2022, where he picked up a race victory in the penultimate race of the season at Darwin’s Hidden Valley Raceway.

He believes his time in the Australian championship has him well-prepared for the challenges on offer in the New Zealand Grand Prix.

“It’s going to be a tough weekend on the arms and upper bodies for sure.

“I’m more than ready for that.”

The top three in Practice 2 were trailed by Kiwi Liam Sceats in fourth, who finished ahead of Nyck de Vries protege Laurens van Hoepen, who is contesting the final two rounds of the season.

Another new arrival in the category, New Zealander Brendon Leitch lapped sixth fastest, ahead of points leader Charlie Wurz.

Two-time Formula Regional Oceania Championship race winner Callum Hedge, Australian Ryder Quinn and Manfeild feature race winner James Penrose rounded out the top 10 in that session.

Hedge mastered the wet conditions in Practice 1, prevailing over van Hoepen, with Wurz in third.

Foster was fourth, ahead of Quinn in fifth, with Penrose sixth-fastest.

Abel, Ngatoa, Leitch and Sceats completed the top 10 in the first session.

Qualifying for the New Zealand Grand Prix will take place on Saturday and will be split into three sessions, with the fastest eight competitors to take part in a 12-minute session that will decide pole for Sunday’s 28-lap race.

New Zealand Grand Prix Practice 1 Results

1. Callum Hedge (NZL) – M2 Competition

2. Laurens van Hoepen (NED) – M2 Competition

3. Charlie Wurz (AUT) – M2 Competition

4. Louis Foster (GBR) – Giles Motorsport

5. Ryder Quinn (AUS) – M2 Competition

6. James Penrose (NZL) – Kiwi Motorsport

7. Jacob Abel (USA) – Kiwi Motorsport

8. Kaleb Ngatoa (NZL) – Giles Motorsport

9. Brendon Leitch (NZL) – Kiwi Motorsport

10. Liam Sceats (NZL) – M2 Competition

11. David Morales (USA) – M2 Competition

12. Adam Fitzgerald (IRL) – Giles Motorsport

13. Ryan Shehan (USA) – Giles Motorsport

14. Josh Mason (GBR) – Kiwi Motorsport

15. Billy Frazer (NZL) – Hamilton Motorsport

16. Chloe Chambers (USA) – Giles Motorsport

17. Lucas Fecury (BRA) – Kiwi Motorsport

18. Chris Van Der Drift (NZL) – Hamilton Motorsport

19. Tom McLennan (AUS) – Kiwi Motorsport

20. Bree Morris (NZL) – Giles Motorsport

New Zealand Grand Prix Practice 2 Results

1. Kaleb Ngatoa (NZL) – Giles Motorsport

2. Louis Foster (GBR) – Giles Motorsport

3. Jacob Abel (USA) – Kiwi Motorsport

4. Liam Sceats (NZL) – M2 Competition

5. Laurens van Hoepen (NED) – M2 Competition

6. Brendon Leitch (NZL) – Kiwi Motorsport

7. Charlie Wurz (AUT) – M2 Competition

8. Callum Hedge (NZL) – M2 Competition

9. Ryder Quinn (AUS) – M2 Competition

10. James Penrose (NZL) – Kiwi Motorsport

11. Chris Van Der Drift (NZL) – Hamilton Motorsport

12. Billy Frazer (NZL) – Hamilton Motorsport

13. David Morales (USA) – M2 Competition

14. Adam Fitzgerald (IRL) – Giles Motorsport

15. Ryan Shehan (USA) – Giles Motorsport

16. Josh Mason (GBR) – Kiwi Motorsport

17. Chloe Chambers (USA) – Giles Motorsport

18. Lucas Fecury (BRA) – Kiwi Motorsport

19. Bree Morris (NZL) – Giles Motorsport

DNS: Tom McLennan (AUS) – Kiwi Motorsport

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