After Artigas’ great podium finish in the USA, the CFMOTO Racing PruestelGP team travelled to Spain to once again compete with the best motorcyclists in the world. Joel Kelso, who is gradually recovering from his left foot injury and wants to find his old strength as quickly as possible, is back with the team.
On Friday morning, in initially warm and later hot temperatures, it was off to the race track for the first practice sessions. While Xavier Artigas quickly built up a good feeling for the CFMOTO and was able to work on his race set-up with many laps, Joel Kelso, who was still ailing, relied on short but very intensive track time. Both strategies took the CFMOTO riders straight into Q2. On Saturday afternoon, with P8 for Artigas and P11 for Kelso, the third and fourth rows of the grid were on the clock.
From this promising position, the Gran Premio MotoGP™ Guru by Gryfyn de España started on Sunday at 12.00 local time. After a small mistake at the start, Artigas quickly found his rhythm and fought his way up to second place in just a few laps. As usual in Moto3™, the field of riders got wild especially in the last laps and so Artigas was not able to move up to podium position in the last lap and finished in P7 only 0.7 seconds behind the winner in the hot battle.
Joel Kelso had to really bite after his first laps due to his injury, but showed his strength of will and completed the race in a respectable 18th place. Kelso proved several times during the weekend that he can immediately return to top times when he is 100% fit.
The gap between Artigas, who is in 5th place, and the leader of the standings is 18 points. The Spaniard is consistently in the points and still has every chance of moving up in the championship standings. The fifth Grand Prix of the year will meet another monument of racing history with the SHARK Grand Prix de France in Le Mans in a fortnight.
#43 Xavier Artigas I P07
“Overall I’m quite happy because we ran at the front the whole race and right until the end. I was sliding a bit under acceleration but there wasn’t too much I could do. The feeling on the bike and from the chassis was great from the work we did this weekend. The last lap was hectic and I suffered with a couple of the overtaking moves. Anyway, we’re strong and I know we can be again in Le Mans. We need to work in the same way, and be fast each session to build up to the race. I’m happy with the bike and we’ll continue to get better. I think I can be strong in this championship, I feel I have a small ‘plus’, and if I can keep pushing in this direction then we’ll do well.”
#66 Joel Kelso I P18
“I knew it was going to be a hard weekend and I knew we’d have to suffer. Finally, we could show our pace for a few laps and it was tough on the left corners. I had a good start but I had to be careful because I didn’t want to do any more damage to my foot. I could only do a few laps like I wanted and then I wasn’t fast enough…but it was good to be back here with everyone and to be back in racing mode. In France we should be quite strong and get nearer to 100%. I’m happy with the set-up, the bike and the team. We just need time now.”
Results Moto3™ Gran Premio MotoGP™ Guru by Gryfyn de España
1. Ivan Ortola (ESP) KTM 33:57.506
2. David Alonso (COL), GASGAS +0.034
3. Jaume Masia (ESP) Honda +0.215
4. Ayumu Sasaki (JPN) Husqvarna +0.422
5. Jose Rueda (ESP) KTM +0.549
7. Xavier Artigas (ESP), CFMOTO Racing PruestelGP +0.738
18. Joel Kelso (AUS), CFMOTO Racing PruestelGP +26.905
Pictures by © RLekl