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Kelso misses out by a whisker at Mandalika

Monday, 16 October 2023

Joel Kelso was an agonising three-tenths of a second from scoring points in scorching-hot conditions in Indonesia, the Australian Moto3™ rider finishing 16th for the third time in 13 starts this season.

The Indonesian Grand Prix was a case of so near, yet so far for Joel Kelso, the Australian Moto3™ rider finishing one place outside of the points, crossing the line in 16th place.

The CFMOTO Racing PruestelGP rider spent the first three-quarters of Sunday’s 20-lap race inside the top 15, but was edged out of the points on the final lap by GasGas rider Ryusei Yamanaka, the Japanese finishing 0.310secs ahead of Kelso to grab the final world championship point on offer.


Frustratingly for Kelso, Indonesia was the third time this season (along with Great Britain and Austria) that he’s come as close as can be to scoring points without getting a reward for his efforts, which where considerable given Sunday’s race at the Mandalika International Circuit was held in sweltering 35-degree heat at 11am local time, track temperatures nudging 60 degrees.

From 13th on the grid, Kelso stayed with the leading group early on and advanced to ninth on lap seven, but began to slide backwards from half-race distance on lap 10 when passed by Red Bull KTM Ajo rider Jose Antonio Rueda (Spain), the Australian demoted to 11th place.

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Two errors in as many laps in the final sector, where he ran wide at the penultimate corner, saw Kelso drop outside the points with five laps left to 18th, but he fought back to inherit 15th place when Yamanaka served a long-lap penalty for a track limits breach on the second-last lap.

The Japanese then retook the position on the final tour, dumping Kelso from the points.

Kelso finished 9.404secs ahead of KTM rider Diogo Moreira, who became Brazil’s first lightweight-class race-winner and the first Brazilian to win any world championship race since MotoGP™ rider Alex Barros 18 years ago.

Kelso’s CFMOTO Racing PruestelGP teammate Xavier Artigas, who, unlike Kelso, is being retained for next season, finished 10secs adrift in 19th position.

“The positive was that we did a good first 10 laps,” Kelso said.

“We started to fade from there, physically I didn’t feel super well and started to go downhill in these hot conditions. Maybe I need to drink a little bit more before the race and hydrate a little bit more.

“Overall we dropped back again in the second half of the race … at the moment it has been like that but we know what we’re capable of, and we just need to keep focused and working towards that. The people around me will help keep my mind positive and not let anything get to me, so we can keep pushing forward.”

Kelso now turns his attentions to his home race at Phillip Island next weekend, where he took his best Moto3™ result in 35 career starts last year by finishing in eighth place.

“I’m really looking forward to it, I can’t wait to get there and be with all the family for the first time in a year, so I’m super excited,” he said.

“Let’s go for it next week!”

Joel's Indonesian Grand Prix by the numbers

  • Qualified: 13th
  • Race (20 laps): 16th
  • Fastest lap: 1min 39.172secs (11th), lap 7
  • Points this event: 0
  • Points this season: 20 (22nd in world championship)