Kurtis Roberts has been in racing hell for the last two years. In 2004, he competed as an also-ran for the Proton in MotoGP. This year, his return to the US with the Erion squad he won championships with has borne no fruit.
The past two years have been a far cry from 2003, where he diced with Mladin at Mid-Ohio and won at VIR and in Birmingham.
"I kinda wish I was on that same bike," the three-time AMA champion said wryly after VIR.
If you thought the factory Honda team had a dismal 2005, take a look at Kurtis. In 2005, he's never been quick on the team's CBR1000RR and has had reliability problems to boot. Seven DNFs mean Roberts is sixteenth in points after VIR. A fifth place finish at an attrition-filled Sunday race at Mid-Ohio is his best result of the year.
The VIR round was a microcosm of '05 for Roberts. On Saturday, Kurtis says he retired with a stuck throttle. On Sunday, he pitted with a hopping rear wheel, then went back out after a tire change only to pull in again with the same problem.
"We've been behind from the beginning and we put ourselves further back," reckoned a disappointed Kurtis after trying new forks for his CBR1000RR at VIR. "Everyone else is testing, and we're just showing up at the racetracks. If you add up all the time I've been on the racetrack all year, it's probably not as much as the other guys have been in two tests."
And what of next year? Roberts is obviously a talented and capable rider. There are rumors of Roberts going to a Suzuki support team -- and even of car racing. Roberts says there are several options to this point. "There's a lot of things in the works, but nothing concrete yet. As soon as I know, everyone else will," he said.