Originally published by Te Ao Maori News
A sensational New Zealand Grand Prix qualifying session saw 19-year-old rookie Kaleb Ngatoa (Te Ati Haunui-a-Pāpārangi) master wet conditions to start at pole position for Sunday's major motor racing event at Hampton Downs, Waikato. He finished the race in fourth position.
The final moments of the session to determine grid positions for the grand prix were some of the most exciting in the 66-year history of the event, as the top spot was traded between much more seasoned drivers than Ngatoa, including two-time winner Daniel Gaunt.
Shane van Gisbergen eventually took the chequered flag at the end of 28 laps from Andre Heimgartner and Matthew Payne despite starting last from the pit.
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Ngatoa - who raises all of his own sponsorship and had been flat out off the track for a year raising the money to compete in the Castrol Toyota Racing Series championship this season - admitted it was an emotional moment.
"They told me P1 on the radio," he said. "I have to say I did get a bit emotional. I mean, this is the New Zealand Grand Prix. It's a very special moment and for everyone who has supported me, but we've got a full day of racing ahead and I've got to focus on that now."
He posted on Facebook that it was a surreal moment to lead the New Zealand Grand Prix.
"I gave it my all, but it wasn't to be. We finished 4th after some dust-ups with other drivers. Very cool race to be a part of, time to regroup and focus on the championship next weekend (January, 30)."
66th New Zealand Grand Prix – Grand Prix qualifying:
1. Kaleb Ngatoa
2. Daniel Gaunt
3. Matthew Payne
4. Chris van der Drift
5. Greg Murphy
6. Conrad Clark
7. Tom Alexander
8. André Heimgartner
9. Damon Leitch
10. Shane van Gisbergen
11. Billy Frazer
12. Brendon Leitch
13. Peter Vodanovich
14. Joshua Bethune
15. Chris Vlok
16. Ken Smith