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Kelso snares season-best ninth in manic Moto3™ battle

Monday, 26 June 2023

Australia's Joel Kelso converted a front-row start into his best points haul of 2023, the 20-year-old finishing just over a second from the podium after an Assen classic.

Joel Kelso has ridden to the best result of his 2023 Moto3™ campaign, the Australian finishing ninth in a breathless lightweight-class race at the Dutch TT on Sunday.

The 20-year-old Australian finished just 1.341secs behind race-winner Jaume Masia (Honda) after 20 no-holds-barred laps, the leading group of 10 riders separated by just two seconds after 34 minutes of riveting racing.


The stellar showing at Assen helped Kelso to banish the bad memories of his brutal exit from the Dutch TT 12 months ago, the Australian breaking his right foot and ankle in a horrific highside after being taken out by a rival rider.

Kelso's season-best race came after an equal career-best qualifying performance on Saturday, the CFMOTO Racing PruestelGP team rider "over the moon" to qualify a superb second to match his effort in Italy two rounds ago as he finished 0.291secs behind Spanish pole-sitter David Munoz (KTM).

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Unlike the race at Mugello, where a penalty sent him to the back of the grid, Kelso was able to take his place in the middle of the front row when the lights went out on Sunday.

Kelso nailed the start and led after the first lap, but was shuffled back to eighth place after six frantic laps as the order chopped and changed seemingly corner by corner.

With the front group leaving the rest of the 27-bike field in their wake, Kelso became detached from the podium battle at the final chicane with five laps remaining, forced to check up as Husqvarna rider Ayumu Sasaki (Japan) made a mistake at the last corner, demoting Kelso to 10th.

Kelso gained a place at the final corner of the race when KTM rider Stefano Nepa ran wide, and his ninth-place finish is his second-best result in 28 Moto3™ world championship starts, bettered only by finishing eighth at his home Grand Prix at Phillip Island last October.

"Overall it was a positive, I was happy with the outcome of the whole weekend," Kelso said.

"I wanted more in the race, I was obviously hungry for a better result there, but it's OK because we take good momentum into the summer break with a top-10 finish."

Spaniard Masia denied Sasaki by just 0.081secs for the victory, with German GP winner Deniz Oncu (Turkey, KTM) finishing 0.276secs from the front to round out the podium.

The seven points for ninth place elevated Kelso one spot in the world championship standings to 18th place with 19 points, ahead of round nine of the season at Silverstone for the British Grand Prix (August 4-6).

Joel's Dutch TT by the numbers

  • Qualified: 2nd
  • Race (20 laps): 9th
  • Fastest lap: 1min 41.828secs (5th), lap 11
  • Points this event: 7
  • Points this season: 19 (18th in world championship)