Crash.net:
What was that experience like, going back to America after you’d had some years in Europe? You rode for John Ulrich who is known for finding Kevin Schwantz and John Hopkins…

Joe Roberts:
John picked me up for 2013 for those five races. I think his point is proven that he can pick some good riders. From his past picking Schwantz and Hopkins, then also grabbing me and now I’m here racing in Moto2. So he wasn’t wrong that he maybe saw something, which is cool. I think 2013 we had really good races. ’14 I think we got a little bit unlucky. Just the package. But we had some good times. I like talking to John about him and those five races we did. I think it was something nice.

Crash.net:
So after supersport class?

Joe Roberts:
The Superstock [600] class was pretty much my only option at that point in my career, so I went back to do that basically just to try to prove a point that I had some good level of a rider. I think I won eleven races, almost every race in the class. Then we did a wild card in the Supersport class at Indianapolis and New Jersey and I qualified on pole in New Jersey. I won the first race and came second in the other one. That was with [Josh] Herrin and Garrett Gerloff and [JD] Beach and all the top guys at the Supersport in that time.

Crash.net:
Clearly the talent is in America for a lot more guys to come to the GPs. Would you think that that’s the case?

Joe Roberts:
I think there’s some talent there, for sure. I think the opportunities are a little difficult to come by over here. Riders need good funding. I do agree there’s a good crop of riders. I think now it’s interesting, especially this year coming up with the Supersport class. They’ve got PJ Jacobsen now. He’s going back to that, which is quite interesting because to me he’s a world-class rider and has won races in World Supersport. It’s good. I think it’s going to raise the level. Any time you stick a fast rider in a class, it automatically just pushes everybody to make the next step. I see it all the time in Moto2. As soon as one rider makes the unthinkable lap time, suddenly about ten others make similar times. Things you wouldn’t even expect. So, I think the level in Europe, just to bring it back to America, I think there’s a lot of good riders there. I think the level is getting better and better.

Crash.net:
When you were racing back there, was there always a timeframe in your mind thinking, ‘I need to be in Europe by this stage in my career?’

Joe Roberts:
The point where I went to Europe was kind of strange. To be honest, I didn’t really expect the jump. I kind of just made the sudden decision that that’s exactly where I wanted to be. Of course I always had it in mind that I wanted to go to Europe, but it wasn’t clear to me quite what the path was because I didn’t know if the right way was to jump into the Superbike class in MotoAmerica and then try to go to World Superbike and then make that step and then go to MotoGP directly. I knew that if I went from the Supersport class in 600’s directly into the world championship, it wasn’t going to be the right move because the jump is just so big. It’s partly why I wanted to do the European [Moto2] championship first, just to kind of understand the bikes and take a little bit of pressure off. Even for me last year just jumping into this, there’s times where you just think, ‘Wow. How can I even get closer to this guy? How has he done this lap time?’ So you definitely need a breather before you can just jump in. I knew it was going to be a lot of eyes on me as the only American coming here.

Crash.net:
Moto2 is known as one of the most cutthroat classes in the world for a reason...

Joe Roberts:
Mentally you have to be quite strong for it. I think a lot goes in hand with just understanding the bike you're on and understanding the tyres and being able to take advantage of it quickly. The thing on a race weekend, it really goes by quicker than you think. You think it’s the first day. We’ll keep working this way and this way. Then all of a sudden you’re in qualifying and you’ve got to make it happen. So, the first year for me was just learning the process of how to approach each weekend. I learned a lot that you’ve got to make a good qualifying. You have to be able to make a good lap time, and you have to be able to do it at the beginning of the race because at the end of the race, things kind of balance out throughout the field. People generally are not lighting up the track, the top guys. I think there were sometimes that I was even matching some of the top riders at the end of the race and I was in 18th position or something. So, to me it’s just you have to be able to do the lap time. I understood that process at the end of the year. It’s what I’m taking into this year is just I really want to be able to make those super lap times that these guys are able to do. So it’s understanding how to do that and visualising something in your head and then executing it.

If anything, last year I kind of showed that I really think I can do it. I really think I can be closer to the front. There were times that I felt we were close. Obviously there were some times I was like, ‘This was not a great weekend.’ But I think there was things I showed last year that I could be there. So I think it was all positive, thinking about everything last year. It’s a new year, new team and a completely new bike. Everything is new. Like we saw yesterday [first day of testing at Jerez], nothing’s changed in Moto2. The times are so close.

Crash.net:
What is your first impressions of the Triumph engine and the KTM chassis?

Joe Roberts:
It’s a different way to ride it, for sure. Everyone liked Moto2 because it was so spectacular to watch, but there was backing in all that. I think you’ll see this year it’s a little more calm with that. It’s not as much backing in, just because with the auto-blipper and the way you have to downshift. You can’t over-rev it like crazy. The power of the bike is a lot more, for sure. You have a lot more power. It’s a little bit more like a superbike style, or MotoGP style to ride. But I like it so far. The impressions are good with the bike. Yesterday wasn’t so bad. I think we ended up 19th but only 1.1 off. So for the third day on the bike, I haven’t done any testing before this test so it’s good.

Crash.net:
KTM didn’t have a great test here in November, but they have some new things with Binder and Martin I think here to test this week that they seem to like.

Joe Roberts:
To be honest, I’m not quite sure exactly where we’re at. I did hear last year they had some issues with the front end of the bike and some chatter. So, I think they have a different chassis [at Jerez]. I’m not sure. Kind of just something the team’s given me. I think Iker is able to kind of use the setting he had from last year with the bike, or kind of a little bit of a variation of it. Me and Iker are about the same height and same weight, so it’s a good place to start. I think we have different riding styles, so maybe we’ll evolve into something else. For now it’s just that.

Crash.net:
Are you someone that can go home and detach yourself from this world? Say you’ve had a bad weekend? Or are you constantly living with it? Is it something that’s constantly in your head?

Joe Roberts:
It depends, honestly. When I go back to Spain, I live in this house and if I’m there, if nobody’s with me and I’m alone or something, maybe I get a little caught up in thinking about things too much. But after November I went back to New York just to go visit. I’ve just completely disconnected. Didn’t really think about racing at all. I think if you talk to any top athletes in the world they’ll say the same thing that after you’ve finished your competition you really just need a couple weeks not even doing anything related to it. So in that sense I can definitely disconnect, but I’ve always got my mind on things. I’ve always got my attention on… I’m always thinking how can I improve? How can I get better? Even if I’m doing something that has nothing related to bikes, or if I’m having a boring conversation with somebody I’ll just start thinking about racing.

Crash.net:
From our point of view, there’s been a little bit of uncertainty surrounding this team. You guys weren’t here last November. Was it difficult to live with a little bit of that uncertainty? Or for you there was never any doubt?

Joe Roberts:
My manager is now the team owner. I’m quite close with him so I was pretty sure the team was going to be fine. I think not coming to the November test, yeah, I wanted to for sure. But in the end I don't think it really affected too many things. We’re here. We’re doing well. My team-mate [Iker Lecuona] was second yesterday. I think it’s proving to everybody that the team is strong. So I’m positive about everything with the team. These guys are no joke. They have a lot of experience with the Moto2 class and have brought a lot of race wins to some good riders. So I’m quite confident in the whole team.

Crash.net:
What is a realistic target for the year ahead?

Joe Roberts:
If you look at what my teammate did last year, he had some really good results, some top tens, and even top fives and podium. So to me that’s the goal. I want to prove to people that I can make the next step. I definitely don’t want to be running where I was last year, but I don't think we will be. We’ve started now where we finished last year, inside the top twenty. That’s nice to start where you finished, and now we can just continue it. I think we’re actually a little further along. I worked a lot over the winter and trained a lot with supermoto bikes and different things, riding production bikes and trying to do different things and thinking about riding a little bit differently. I think now this year you’ll see we make the next step.

Crash.net:
You play instruments and have done some modeling away from the track. Do these kind of things help you disconnect?

Joe Roberts:
Yeah. I love music. I’ve always been a big fan of music and always kind of played in bands and stuff with my brothers or friends and stuff like that. I wouldn’t say I’m the best musician in the world, but I’m not too bad. I can play bass. I like to jump on piano a bit. I don’t really know how to play that well, but I like making little sounds and synths and stuff. Me and my brother, we make some music together. I enjoy that a lot. Modeling, I don't know. I was approached by some agency to do some stuff. I haven’t really done a lot of it, but taken some pictures. It’s always good to be able to take a good picture. That comes in handy.

Crash.net:
Are those avenues you may pursue after racing?

Joe Roberts:
Yeah. I don’t really have time for a band right now. I’m never in America, really. Maybe modeling, yeah. It might be nice to do some stuff. [Marc] Marquez used to be able to do some good modeling, too. Get my own clothing brand. I think I got to make some steps in the championship first.

Crash.net:
You live in Europe during the season? Is that a big help?

Joe Roberts:
That’s a kind of interesting question because for Americans coming over, some people can’t deal with leaving home and the different food and things like that. Last year I didn’t go. I left in April and I didn’t come back to my house until December, so it was like eight months that I was away. To be honest, I didn’t really mind it. I’m 21 now. It’s time I moved out. I like being on my own. I love my family and being back home, being with my dog is nice. But I enjoy the adventure especially living outside of Barcelona, I’m a motorcycle racer and that place just feels like the ultimate place to be a motorcycle racer because everybody appreciates it so much. I walk into a coffee shop and if somebody knows who I am, I’m surprised because it’s just like everyone watches it. So, it’s a nice feeling to be living there. You really feel the energy that everyone’s doing something with motorsports, whether it’s MotoGP or just dirt biking, car racing or something. People are all about racing. I like that aspect of living in Spain and being in Europe. Also the food is nice. I can’t do the Spanish food all the time. I got to make my special Chef Roberts recipes, which generally just consist of chicken and rice with a little bit of taco seasoning from America.

Comments

Loading Comments...