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Kelso makes a point in Japan to break drought

Monday, 2 October 2023

Joel Kelso defied a three-place grid penalty to jump back into the points in Japan, ending a recent run of outs with a solid ride to 15th in Moto3™.

Joel Kelso has put a weekend of penalty dramas aside to score points for the first time in six events at the Japanese Grand Prix, the Australian Moto3™ rider finishing in 15th place at Motegi on Sunday.

Riding for the CFMOTO Racing PruestelGP team, Kelso's one world championship point was his first score since finishing ninth at Assen in late June, and came just one week after a violent high-side early in the inaugural Indian Grand Prix saw him arrive in Japan nursing a foot injury after his second DNF of the season.


Kelso qualified 15th at Motegi, but was penalised three grid positions by the stewards for "riding in an irresponsible manner" during Saturday morning's third practice session, starting the 17-lap Grand Prix from 18th place.

The 20-year-old immediately gained two places on lap one to end it in 16th, and then passed Italian Riccardo Rossi (Honda) to get into the points-paying positions on lap four.

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Rossi and Kelso were part of a group of riders disputing the back-end of the points spots for the majority of the race, and Kelso briefly jumped to 14th on lap 11 when Italian Matteo Bertelle (Honda) and Deniz Oncu (KTM) crashed out in separate incidents ahead of him.

At the chequered flag, Kelso was 13.905secs behind race-winner and new Moto3™ championship leader Jaume Masia, the Spaniard winning his second successive Grand Prix, and comfortably kept his points position on the final lap, Italian Filippo Farioli (KTM) 2.769secs in arrears.

"Overall the weekend hasn't been too bad considering we arrived after the crash in India," Kelso said, after he finished a race ahead of where he'd started for just the second time this season.

"We managed quite well, in the race we finished at the back of the second group. We tried our best, and we got one point. It's a good direction to keep working forward from here and come stronger in the next race."

Earlier in the weekend, it was announced that Kelso, along with fellow KTM rider Ivan Ortola (Spain), had been disqualified from the results of round 11 of the season in Catalunya in early September after their bikes were found to have used "an oil outside of the FIM Moto3 technical specifications" after qualifying.

Kelso had qualified third and finished 18th in Barcelona, so lost no world championship points for his team's transgression.

Kelso's fourth points finish of the year in Japan sees him sit 21st in the championship standings ahead of the next round in Indonesia in two weeks' time.

Joel's Japanese Grand Prix by the numbers

  • Qualified: 15th (started 18th after three-place post-qualifying penalty)
  • Race (17 laps): 15th
  • Fastest lap: 1min 57.657secs (15th), lap 4
  • Points this event: 1
  • Points this season: 20 (21st in world championship)