News 22 Oct 2023

Oncu denies Sasaki in wet Phillip Island Moto3 encounter

Home-hero Kelso splashes to popular third place in Australia.

Image: Supplied.

A late move from Deniz Oncu denied Ayumu Sasaki the Moto3 race win and the points lead in Australia, with the Red Bull KTM Ajo rider splashing to success at Phillip Island while Joel Kelso scored his first-ever podium in the category at world championship level.

From pole in the tricky wet and windy conditions, Ayumu Sasaki (Liqui Moly Husqvarna Intact GP) grabbed the holeshot, followed closely by home-hero Joel Kelso (CFMoto Pruestel GP).

However, it didn’t take Leopard Racing’s Adrian Fernandez long to reach the lead from ninth on the grid and start to stretch the field out with his pace at the front, and after the first three laps he held a one-second advantage in front of Sasaki, Oncu (Red Bull KTM Ajo), Kelso, Collin Veijer (Liqui Moly Husqvarna Intact GP) and Mario Aji – the Honda Team Asia rider making rapid progress from 24th on the grid.

In the stages that followed, Oncu moved into second, with Kelso also passing Sasaki for third with the gap to Fernandez remaining at one-second. By the lap nine mark, Oncu, Kelso and Sasaki had bridged the gap to Fernandez out front, with Veijer still in contention and roughly eight-tenths back from his teammate, who made a move on the number 66 into turn one the following time round, with Kelso swiftly responding at turn two.

With eight to go, Sasaki took Kelso again into turn one, as Veijer continued to drop back from the leading group of four. Notably, the top-five had over 20 seconds of advantage ahead of the second group, led by Taiyo Furusato (Honda Team Asia) at this point.

The following lap saw Oncu save a near highside out of turn four, allowing Sasaki by as Kelso charged past the Turkish rider soon after into third, with Fernandez out front capitalising on the mistakes by the number 53 to stretch his advantage back out to a second, before disaster stuck and he crashed out of the lead at turn 11.

Five to go, and Sasaki led Kelso and Oncu in a leading group of three, with the Red Bull KTM Ajo rider taking the Australian into turn one the next time round. Kelso ran slightly wide into turn 10 that lap, dropping back from the leading two as Oncu edged towards Sasaki.

A last-lap lunge from Oncu into turn 10 proved decisive, and he was able to ride on to win the Australian Moto3 World Championship race, ahead of Sasaki with Kelso scoring a popular home podium in third – his best result yet in the category.

Veijer finished a distant fourth, as Fernandez remounted and finished fifth ahead of SIC58 Squadra Corse’s Riccardo Rossi. Taking the checkers in P7 was Furusato, leading championship leader Jaume Masia (Leopard Racing), as Matteo Bartelle (Rivacold Snipers Team) and Lorenzo Fellon (CIP Green Power) completed the top 10. Championship contender Daniel Holgado (Red Bull KTM Tech3) crashed on the out lap, but was able to make the start and finish 13th.

Masia now leads the 2023 Moto3 World Championship standings by four points ahead of Sasaki, with Holgado third and 22 points from the top.

Detailed results