CFMOTO RACING'S JOEL KELSO TAKES MAIDEN MOTO3™ PODIUM AT PHILLIP ISLAND
High-speed, havoc, rain and Joel Kelso’s speed were some of the defining features of the 2023 Guru by Gryfyn Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix and the sixteenth round of the current MotoGP™ series. Phillip Island, the fantastically fast, scenic but exposed circuit on the south coast was ravaged by stormy winds, cold temperatures and rain but CFMOTO were able to lift their second world championship race trophy thanks to the wet-weather skills and bravery by #66 Kelso as he fought for victory and finished 3rd.
- CFMOTO encounter colder and challenging conditions in Australia but a large and enthusiastic crowd at the free-flowing site southeast of Melbourne
- Home Grand Prix highlight for Joel Kelso as the Aussie fights for the top of the time sheets on Friday, qualifies 2nd on Saturday and rides to the podium for the first time: the second GP trophy for CFMOTO
- Xavi Artigas makes a brilliant comeback from the back of the grid, two penalties and almost reaches the top ten before becoming a victim to the rain and finishing 16th
- The third date of the current triple-header means MotoGP heads to the hot climes of Buriram and the Chang International Circuit this week for the OR Thailand Grand Prix
CFMOTO PruestelGP continued their MotoGP world championship trek after trips to Japan and Indonesia in recent weeks by making the long journey south to Australia and the popular Phillip Island circuit. The venue has been the most consistent Grand Prix host since its inaugural date in 1989 and has been ever-present since 1997; the disruption of the pandemic in 2020 and 2021 notwithstanding.
For Joel Kelso the first spin around Phillip Island with the #66 CFMOTO race bike was particularly significant. The youngster was keen and motivated to put on a show for his home followers and fans, and his knowledge of the track came to good use as he remained competitive throughout the sessions. Uncharacteristically, the location produced warm and sunny weather for Friday’s timetable but – typically – then started to change. Saturday was cooler and breezy and there was a danger of the Moto3 and Moto2 classes being unable to race on Sunday with strong winds and gusts forecast.
Kelso had to deal with qualification first and put in a spirited charge without relying on some of the slipstreaming and gamesmanship tactics used by many other riders in the field. He set a lap-time that placed him 2nd and squarely in the middle of the front row; it was another bright qualifying performance by the 20-year-old. Xavi Artigas had a tougher time and took to the start grid in 27th and with two Long Lap penalties to serve.
Sunday arrived and so did the storm. Temperatures were halved compared to Friday! The wind was unforgiving and visibility was also difficult. Extreme conditions then but Kelso was undaunted and spent all 21-laps in contention at the front of the field. With 7 circulations until the flag the Aussie had a small ‘moment’ and lost the tow for P1 but kept steady and secure to bag 3rd place and begin the celebration. Joel was the first Australian on the Moto3 podium at Phillip Island in the last ten seasons. Artigas rode superbly to complete his penalties and make progress all the way to the edge of the top ten. Sadly, with four laps to go his speed was curtailed with a slip at Turn 11. He re-joined for 16th and only just missed GP points.
The Australian Grand Prix was blown into posterity Sunday evening. The championship standings held little change for CFMOTO PruestelGP with Artigas on the edge of the top ten and Kelso up to 17th. The team is ranked 10th from 14.
MotoGP is sure to find warmer skies and a more consistent race stage for the fast-approaching round seventeen next weekend. The 12-corner 4.5km Chang International Circuit is just ten years old but will be braced for the fourth Thai Grand Prix.
Joel Kelso: “Bloody brilliant! I’m over the moon. It was tricky conditions, but I just had to go for it at my home GP. I wanted the win but then made a little mistake, so I thought ‘Just put it in the bag’ and get it home safely. There was a lot of pressure but now we’ll finish the year and try to bring the best results to CFMOTO.”
Xavier Artigas: “The end of the weekend here in Australia. In FP1 we were given the penalty, which hurt us in the race but I’ll keep with the positives: we were fast in the rain and could fight for the top ten until the last few laps. I just made a small mistake and closed the front end and hit the floor. We did well to be where we were and to come back from last place with the Long Laps. I want more and I want better in Thailand next week.”
Moto3 2023 Grand Prix of Australia
1. Deniz Öncü (TUR) KTM 39:57.919
2. Ayumu Sasaki (JPN) Husqvarna +0.407
3. Joel Kelso (AUS) CFMOTO Racing PruestelGP +4.391
16. Xavier Artigas (ESP), CFMOTO Racing PruestelGP +1:30.027
Moto3 2023 world championship standings after 16 of 20 rounds
1. Jaume Masia (ESP) Honda 209 points
2. Ayumu Sasaki (JPN) Husqvarna, 193
3. Daniel Holgado (ESP) KTM, 192
13. Xavier Artigas (ESP) CFMOTO Racing PruestelGP, 65
17. Joel Kelso (AUS), CFMOTO Racing PruestelGP, 36