For Joe Roberts, the 24-year-old American rider in Moto2, mistakes are not a necessary evil, they are simply necessary.
Prior to the Grand Prix of Qatar, which can be seen Sunday, 1:30 ET on CNBC, Roberts joined NBC’s Parker Kligerman via Zoom from his home in Barcelona to discuss preseason testing and the end of his 2021 season. The complete interview can be viewed above.
“(Testing) was really important to understanding this bike; how we can get this thing running up front all of the time,” Roberts said. “Even laps that were terrible were valuable to me because I learned what not to do.
“We had a couple of fast laps that came together. I still think we have some work to do, but overall I’m happy because we went the wrong way, so I know which way to go. Which is the right way.
“When we started to go in that direction, things got quicker and quicker.”
After scoring his first Moto2 podium for American Racing in 2020 and finishing seventh in the points, Roberts hit the track in 2021 with a new team.
Expectations were high at Italtrans Racing. Roberts came close to earning a second podium in the Italian Grand Prix, but incurred a controversial penalty for exceeding track limits
Then he suffered a broken collarbone at Misano in October.
What should have been an easy repair turned out to be not so simple. He tried to come back too soon and the plate broke apart, taking bits of the bone with it, and Roberts was done for the season.
But that did not dull Roberts’ enthusiasm for fast, flowing tracks with long straightaways.
On this type of course, which includes this weekend’s venue in Qatar, “you feel like you’re flowing,” Roberts said. “When you hit the ground, you know how fast you’re going, but prior to that you just feel like you’re gliding on the track.”
Gliding down the straights is fun, but speed is gained in the corners. During the offseason, Roberts spent a lot of time on short road courses, drifting through tight corners like a sprint car.
“Supermoto for me is really fun to ride a bike like that and slide it into the corners, but it teaches a lot of mental discipline,” Roberts said. “I go to ride Supermoto – and I go alone most of the time – and I just hammer out laps. I try to be perfect every lap.
“It’s my kind of thing, because Moto2 comes down to those little tenths, those little margins that separate you from first to 10th or 20th.”