The last thing you need right now is engine upgrades. You would be far better off spending money and time working on items that make the car more reliable, buying better tires and then getting as much seat time as possible.
Newbies should be restricted from upgrading engines until every chassis and brake upgrade is made and they've spent the maximum amount of time possible in a year in the seat flogging the car on the track. Only then should they think about more power.
Spending all your time trying to sort out the car, worrying about whether or not it'll make it through the weekend tends to take the thrill out of learning the craft. Its a bummer.
We have one car that is as reliable as the day is long, we flog the crap out of it and it runs and runs and runs.
We have another car that is a high strung beasty, its a thrill when it works but it breaks constantly.
We've learned much more with the reliable car.