Joel Kelso continued his points-scoring run in Qatar on Sunday, the Australian Moto3™ rider again featuring in the front group of a desert classic under lights in Doha and finishing in 13th place for his eighth points-scoring result of 2023.
The CFMOTO Racing PruestelGP rider finished just four of the opening 15 Grands Prix this season inside the top 15, but a maiden podium at his home Grand Prix in October, when he finished third at Phillip Island in difficult conditions, kick-started a strong streak of form for the 20-year-old, who now has four points-scoring showings in succession for the longest run of his world championship career.
Kelso started Sunday’s 16-lap race from seventh place after making it directly through to Q2 on Saturday, and was immediately in the thick of the fight up front as a breakaway group emerged at the track that the sport hadn’t visited since the 2022 season-opener, which was just his fifth world championship Grand Prix.
After setting his fastest lap of the race (2min 06.178secs) on lap six, a mistake under brakes into Turn 1 on the next lap ultimately proved costly for Kelso’s hopes of a fifth top-10 result this year, the Australian running deep in the slipstream into the first corner and momentarily losing touch with the front group.
The pack compacted again with three laps to go, bringing Kelso back towards the top 10, but retaining points looked to be a tough task after he was elbowed back to 15th on the penultimate lap. Passes of Honda riders Taiyo Furusato (Japan) and Adrian Fernandez (Spain) on the final lap saw him cross the line 4.060secs behind race-winner Jaume Masia (Honda), the category veteran securing the 2023 Moto3™ title with his fourth victory of the season before moving to Moto2™ next year.
“Overall that wasn’t a bad day despite the little mistake in the race that dropped me back,” Kelso said afterwards.
“We just missed that front group by a couple of seconds, we had the potential there to fight for a podium.
“I felt strong about the race though … the overall position isn’t so amazing but all in all that’s a positive weekend from where we started on Friday, so we’ll live and learn from it.”
Kelso retained 18th place in the championship with the result ahead of Valencia and his final race with CFMOTO Racing PruestelGP in Spain before his move to BOE Motorsports and KTM next season.
Joel's Qatar Grand Prix by the numbers
- Qualified: 7th
- Race (16 laps): 13th
- Fastest lap: 2mins 06.178secs (14th), lap 6
- Points this event: 3
- Points this season: 52 (18th in world championship)