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Oncu and Arbolino shine on final day at Phillip Island

Sunday, 22 October 2023

One race may have been cancelled and one shortened, but there was still plenty of on-track action to see at the 2023 MotoGP™ Guru by Gryfyn Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix.

The decision to cancel the Tissot Sprint was taken at the track at 12:30 pm but there are still some great memories for fans to take home from the Phillip Island event.

Deniz Öncü and Tony ‘Tiger’ Arbolino shared the wins in Moto3™ and Moto2™, respectively, but the circumstances in which they did so could hardly have been more different. Öncü waited until the final half-lap to pounce on long-time race leader Ayumu Sasaki to take a narrow win on his Red Bull KTM, keeping himself on contention for the 2023 championship.


Likewise, Arbolino took all the advantage he could by winning the Moto2™ race, which was shortened to half-distance by red flag. Under those circumstances half-points were awarded, and the Italian remains in second place behind runaway points leader, Pedro Acosta.

The Red Bull rider had enough dramas for most people even before the race started, dropping his Triumph-powered Kalex on the sighting lap of the race. Only speedy work by his crew allowed him to make the start, albeit from the rear of the grid, from which he salvaged 10th place.

Even in the shortened race there were plenty of crashes, even among some of the seasoned racers, like Jake Dixon and Sam Lowes, who was making his final appearance as a GP racer at the track before he moves on to World Superbikes for 2024.

For Australian race fans, the highlight of Sunday must have been Joel Kelso’s third place Moto3™. The Darwin rider went into the weekend unsure of even his 2024 plans, but a new deal that will see him continue into next season was celebrated in exactly the right way. Kelso sped to his maiden Moto3 podium finish, the first for an Aussie on home soil since Jack Miller won the race in 2014.

Kelso will race next year alongside David Muñoz for BOÉ Motorsports and looks poised to cement his place in the leading group of the ultra-competitive category.

The Phillip Island event has also seen the emergence of some of the starts rising stars. Spaniard Fermin Aldeguer backed up his fine 2022 race with a dominant Qualifying performance in Moto2, the 18-year-old flinging his Boscoscuro around the 4.45km track at record page. He will, surely, be a regular Grand Prix winner in the not-too-distant future.

Likewise, Collin Viejer marked himself as a man to watch in his first appearance at Phillip Island. The Dutch rookie made an impressive debut at the Island track, and many are tipping him to be the man to follow in the footsteps of some of the great racers to emerge from the Netherlands in seasons past.