Leading into Portuguese Grand Prix ends with unfortunate crash for Kelso after finish line

The long wait is over as MotoGP™ is back on the track. The first stop this season was Europe. There has been a lot of action at the Autódromo Internacional do Algarve in the south of Portugal over the past few days.

Friday started with a mix of sun, clouds, wind and light drizzle, but cleared up by Sunday and presented the spectators with exciting races in sunny conditions.

What was already indicated in the pre-tests was confirmed by the two CFMOTO Racing PruestelGP riders #43 Xavier Artigas and #66 Joel Kelso in the first free practice session, raising hopes of a great start to the season.

On Saturday, it was newcomer Joel Kelso who was able to improve on his performance from the free practice sessions in qualifying and secure a place on the front row of the grid for the GRANDE PRÉMIO TISSOT DE PORTUGAL with the third fastest lap. Xavier Artigas confirmed the good team attitude with 7th place on the grid.

The result was very pleasing, as the official market launch of the new CFMOTO 450SR (super sports bike) took place on Saturday afternoon directly in front of the main grandstand of the circuit, for which a CFMOTO manager delegation from headquarter had also travelled from China. In addition to many technical discussions, the actual highlight of the presentation for the numerous fans and spectators of this event was the bike unveiling with the CFMOTO factory riders Kelso and Artigas. Those present took the opportunity to take photos with the Moto3™ riders. Later in the evening, there was a joint CFMOTO dinner in the paddock.

On Sunday, the time had finally come for the first Grand Prix of the year. In the morning, the CFMOTO team was still slightly tense, but when the red lights went out, Australian #66 Joel Kelso made a turbo start and turned into the first corner in the lead. His Spanish teammate #43 Xavier Artigas also made good use of his riding skills and joined the lead group just behind. A race developed which could hardly be surpassed in terms of excitement, characterised by many overtaking manoeuvres. Both CFMOTO riders showed a great race and were also able to collect lead kilometres.

In the end, luck was not entirely on CFMOTO’s side. Artigas and Kelso crossed the finish line in 8th and 9th place after an exhausting race in the top 10. Nevertheless, a promising performance with a reach for the podium.

The biggest shock moment came after the finish when Joel Kelso had an unfortunate collision with another rider and crashed heavily. Joel was taken to the medical center for examination, where a fracture in his left ankle was diagnosed. The team is already working on solutions, as the next Grand Prix in Argentina, Termas de Río Hondo, will take place next week.

#43 Xavier Artigas I P08

“We have finished the first race of the season and I am very happy with the feeling to my CFMOTO bike. The riding rhythm is good and also the many overtaking manoeuvres didn’t throw me off. The team did a great job, so we were able to ride consistently at the front all weekend. I’m looking forward to the next race in Argentina, where we’ll be back in full attack.”

#66 Joel Kelso I P09

“The race in Portimao started very well. I went straight into first place and managed that position for the first few laps. The pace was fast and we were able to keep our position in the front. Towards the end of the race, the group became more and more nervous due to the many position changes, because everyone was fighting for the win. I ended up in 9th place, which is fine, even though I wanted to be further in front. I am very sad about the outcome of the weekend because there was a crash with another rider after the chequered flag. I got injured and will be out of several races. Tomorrow I will have more medical examinations and then we will see. Of course I want to get back to the team as soon as possible!”

Florian Prüstel I Team Manager

“The start in Portugal was very pleasing and we all put in a great performance together. A top 10 finish is satisfying, even though we could have done better today. The first and third rows of the grid from qualifying show that the team is working well as a unit and we will attack again straight away in Argentina. From sporting side, it was a very good start for us as CFMOTO factory team. The unfortunate crash of Joel Kelso after the chequered flag was bad, because he will probably be out for several weeks due to an ankle injury. Now we have to work out solutions and prepare for the next race. Joel as well as Xavi showed their talent today and did a great race. We wish Joel a good and fast recovery!”


1. Daniel HOLGADO (SPA), KTM 34’27.061

2. David MUÑOZ (SPA), KTM +0.160

3. Diogo MOREIRA (BRA), KTM +0.175

4. José Antonio RUEDA (SPA) KTM +0.206

5. Jaume MASIA, (SPA), HONDA +0.233

8. Xavier ARTIGAS (SPA), CFMOTO +1.137

9. Joel KELSO (AUS), CFMOTO +1.268

Pictures by © RLekl

previous entry
next entry