After the CFMOTO Racing PruestelGP team started the opening race of the Moto3™ 2023 season with a front row holeshot last weekend, it was thought that genius and madness could not be closer together. The Argentine Grand Prix was to prove us wrong.
But from the beginning: At the Portuguese Grand Prix, the CFMOTO factory riders #66 Joel Kelso and #43 Xavier Artigas already showed the power of their riding talent and the good preparatory work from the winter months. Unfortunately, luck was not on the side of the team and so both riders, despite many leading kilometres, narrowly missed the podium. In addition, there was an unlucky crash by Australian Joel Kelso after crossing the finish line. Surgery on a torn tendon in his left foot and missing the Argentina Grand Prix was the painful consequence. A substitute rider from the Junior World Championship was still hired on race Sunday.
Less than 24 hours after the race accident, the CFMOTO team with #43 Xavier Artigas and the young Spaniard #92 David Almansa went halfway around the globe to South America.
After a short period of getting to know each other, the first free practice sessions took place on Friday. With P6 for #43 Xavier Artigas and P11 for #92 David Almansa, fast lap times were on the list in session 1, which gave the team a good basis for the weekend.
The weather was a mix of clouds and rain all weekend. The asphalt at the Autoódromo Termas de Río Hondo struggled to really dry out and allow the riders in the MotoGP™ classes to showcase the track’s full high-speed potential.
Saturday’s qualifying was also marked by difficult conditions. David Almansa was unable to make ideal use of the tight time slot in Q1 and secured 25th place on the grid for the race. Xavier Artigas, who qualified early for Q2, was also unable to deliver a perfect lap and started the race from the fifth row of the grid (P15).
Contrary to the forecast, there was a WET race on Sunday. Due to the missing session on Sunday morning, the time to learn more about track conditions was limited to the outlap and warm-up lap. So a hot tango dance was inevitable. The winners of the opening laps of the race were #92 David Almansa and #43 Xavier Artigas, who each made a rocket start to move into 2nd and 3rd positions after just a few kilometres on the track. For most of the race, the CFMOTO riders took turns leading the front group. Only the race winner Tatsuki Suzuki was able to deliver a perfect race in front of them. A few laps before the end, Xavier Artigas, lying in 2nd place, had a small slide, but quickly returned the race and fought his way up to 8th place in the end. Undeterred, the young CFMOTO substitute rider David Almansa took the lead of the leading group and was only half a lap away from the podium when another rider crashed straight into his bike and ruined the sensation.
After two races, Artigas is now 7th in the championship standings, while Kelso moves to 15th. CFMOTO Racing PruestelGP is in 5th place in the team standings.
Now it’s time for a speedy recovery for Joel Kelso, because in two weeks the US Grand Prix awaits the fast boys from CFMOTO. The vast and technically demanding Circuit of the Americas is the third stop on the MotoGP™ calendar.
#43 Xavier Artigas I P08
“Of course I am unlucky. I had a small crash in the last part of the race. I was in second place at that time and had a really strong pace. We were fast in both dry and wet conditions, which is important. The team did a great job again and set up the bike very well. Now it’s on to Austin in Texas at one of my favourite tracks, so I’m looking forward to that.”
#92 David Almansa I P17
“Today was the most important race of my life and I was not only able to gain experience, but also to compete for the podium in the top. Despite the difficult conditions, I had a perfect feeling with the CFMOTO and was completely focused on myself and my race. Unfortunately, I was pushed off the track on the last lap and had no chance. I am very happy about the chance to prove myself in the World Championship and thank the CFMOTO Racing PruestelGP team for the great job! Thanks also to my supporters!”
Results Moto3™ GRAN PREMIO MICHELIN® DE LA REPÚBLICA ARGENTINA
1. Tatsuki SUZUKI (JPN), HONDA 35’18.099
2. Diogo MOREIRA (BRA), KTM +4.571
3. Andrea MIGNO (ITA), KTM +4.699
4. Daniel HOLGADO, (SPA) KTM +8.814
5. Scott OGDEN, (GBR), HONDA +11.512
8. Xavier ARTIGAS (SPA), CFMOTO +12.467
17. David ALMANSA (SPA), CFMOTO +41.959
Pictures by © RLekl