Joel Kelso’s strong end to the Moto3™ season continued all the way to the finish line in Valencia, the Australian taking a fifth top-10 result of the year and a fifth points finish in a row by finishing seventh in the farewell race for the CFMOTO Racing PruestelGP team.
The 20-year-old was at the sharp end in Valencia from opening practice when he finished Friday in third place, and he qualified fourth on Saturday, 0.319secs behind pole-sitter Collin Veijer (Husqvarna) after topping the timesheets in the third and final practice session of the weekend.
Sunday’s 20-lap race saw a breakaway group of seven riders rapidly clear off from the rest of the pack, with Kelso in the thick of the fight in the early laps as he held his fourth position off the grid.
He ceded places to Colombian David Alonso (GasGas) and Spain’s Ivan Ortola (KTM) on lap five to drop to sixth, and was demoted to seventh by Spain’s Jose Antonio Rueda (KTM) on lap 11, but hung on gamely to the charging group as the lap count ticked down.
While never close enough to show Rueda a wheel in the latter stages, Kelso crossed the line in seventh to earn nine world championship points, continuing a late-season surge that was kick-started by his podium at his home Grand Prix at Phillip Island in October, and featured another top-seven result in Malaysia.
Kelso finished 4.623secs behind race-winner Ayumu Sasaki (Japan, Husqvarna), while he was 1.034secs adrift of Rueda at the chequered flag.
“I almost had it … I gave it 110 per cent but I just couldn’t quite stay with that front group,” Kelso said.
“The pace was hot, and we were just missing that little bit. But it’s good to end the season with being in the points another time, another top 10. Really happy with how the season ended, and I’ll be ready to go and fresh to start a new year.”
The race was the final outing for the German-based PruestelGP team, which counts MotoGP™ race-winner Marco Bezzecchi among its alumni in the world championship’s entry-level category. The team made the shock announcement ahead of qualifying on Saturday that it was withdrawing at the end of 2023.
Kelso announced his 2024 plans at the Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix in October, when he revealed he’d be joining the BOE Motorsports KTM outfit for his third full world championship season.
Joel's Valencia Grand Prix by the numbers
- Qualified: 4th
- Race (20 laps): 7th
- Fastest lap: 1min 38.620secs (7th), lap 6
- Points this event: 9
- Points this season: 61 (17th in world championship)