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Race pace remains elusive for Kelso

Monday, 11 September 2023

Joel Kelso dragged himself into Q2 with another Saturday special at Misano, but the Australian couldn't maintain the rage over 20 laps in Sunday's 20-lap Moto3™ race, falling from the points.

Joel Kelso started strongly before fading out of points-paying contention in Moto3™ at the San Marino Grand Prix, the Australian running inside the top 10 for the opening laps before eventually finishing 19th.

The 20-year-old's pointless run has now stretched to four races, and comes at a time where he's looking to shore up his future after being told by his CFMOTO Racing PruestelGP team that he wouldn't be retained for 2024 after last month's Austrian Grand Prix.


Kelso continued his trend of being able to out-perform the capabilities of his machinery over one lap before fading to the bike's natural level in the race at Misano, coming through from Q1 to qualify in 11th place on Saturday after a superb late lap. It was the fourth time he's made it through to Q2 this season after finishing practice outside of the top 14.

In Sunday's 20-lap race, Kelso gained a place at the first corner and rose to eighth on lap three, when he set his fastest lap of the race (1min 42.227secs). He immediately dropped three spots at the Quercia corner (Turn 8) on the following lap, and fell outside of the top 15 points-paying positions when elbowed back to 16th by Italian Riccardo Rossi (Honda) on lap seven.

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Kelso was overtaken by teammate Xavier Artigas, who he started nine places ahead of, on lap nine before dropping to the back of a five-bike train in 21st at half-distance on lap 10.

The Australian gained a place on the final lap when he overtook Italian Matteo Bertelle (Honda), and advanced another spot after the chequered flag fell when Italian Filippo Farioli (KTM) was penalised for failing to serve a long-lap penalty for track limits breaches during the race.

The 19th-place result means Kelso has only finished ahead of where he's started just once, in France in round five when he was 11th from 16th on the grid, this season.

Colombian David Alonso (GasGas) won at Misano, his third victory in the past four races, with Kelso finishing 17.584secs in arrears, and six seconds outside of the top 15 for points.

"That was a tough one again today after the start," Kelso admitted after the race.

"In general, it was just frustrating. We have the pace when we're alone, but then struggle to stay in the slipstream, so we need to go back and try to understand this.

"It's been a difficult run at the moment over these past few races, but we just need to keep looking forwards and try to make some improvements for the next one."

Kelso is next back in action as the world championship visits India and the Buddh International Circuit for the first time for round 13 (September 22-24).

Joel's San Marino Grand Prix by the numbers

  • Qualified: 11th
  • Race (20 laps): 19th
  • Fastest lap: 1min 42.227secs (20th), lap 3
  • Points this event: 0
  • Points this season: 19 (21st in world championship)