Joel Kelso has scored points in consecutive Moto3™ races for the first time this season, the Australian backing up his podium finish at Phillip Island with a 12th-place result in the Thailand Grand Prix on Sunday.
The 20-year-old, who arrived in Buriram buzzing after finishing third at his home Grand Prix just seven days previously, was in the thick of the action at the front as a mass pack battle raged for the entire 19-lap duration, and finished just 2.337secs adrift of race-winner David Alonso (GasGas), the Colombian rookie victorious for the fourth time this season.
Kelso, who qualified his CFMOTO Racing PruestelGP machine in 14th place after coming through Q1 and then crashing late in Q2, gained two places in the first four laps and then engaged in a spirited battle with Italian Riccardo Rossi (Honda) and Spaniard Jose Antonio Rueda (KTM), moving past Rueda to 11th on lap eight as he latched onto the tail of the breakaway front group.
Kelso fell back to 13th with five laps remaining when passed by 2022 teammate Kaito Toba (Japan, Honda), but was under no pressure from behind as Rueda (14th) had dropped three seconds adrift.
With the top five swapping paint and places on the last lap, Kelso was well placed to capitalise on any mishaps ahead of him into the final corners, and slipped past Brazilian Diogo Moreira (KTM) at the right-hander leading onto the start-finish straight to cement 12th, his sixth points finish of the year and first back-to-back points results since the Thailand and Australian Grands Prix 12 months ago.
The only disappointment for Kelso in Thailand was dropping two places in the world championship standings to 19th, after Japanese rider Taiyo Furusato (second) and Italian Matteo Bertelle (seventh) both took career-best finishes on their Hondas to leapfrog Kelso on the points table.
“Overall not an amazing result, but I’m content with the position,” Kelso said.
“We were just at the back of the front group and we needed to improve a little bit for the last five or six laps of the race, but we know what we need to improve and now we’re being a lot more aggressive.
“It’s a matter of improving a little bit with less tyre grip on the rear at the end of the race. But all in all, content … we just need to keep working in this direction.”
Spaniard Jaume Masia extended his lead at the top of the Moto3™ standings by finishing fourth, the Honda rider now 17 points ahead of Ayumu Sasaki (Husqvarna) with three rounds remaining after the Japanese rider crashed out.
Joel's Thailand Grand Prix by the numbers
- Qualified: 14th
- Race (19 laps): 12th
- Fastest lap: 1min 42.776secs (14th), lap 10
- Points this event: 4
- Points this season: 40 (19th in world championship)