Valentino Rossi's legendary crew chief Jerry Burgess insists he's not worried about the Italian's 2011 MotoGP title prospects after a tough start to the new season in Qatar last weekend.
Rossi's Ducati debut saw him finish seventh as he continues to struggle to get the best out of the new GP11 while his right shoulder is still well below 100 per cent fitness. Rossi reckons the shoulder he first damaged almost a year ago in a motocross training accident is still only at 70 per cent of its normal strength.
The 32-year-old also wants Ducati to start making changes to this year's Desmosedici, with a heavily revised GP11 machine expected to be rolled out for him to test immediately after the Estoril MotoGP race in Portugal in early May.
But with Casey Stoner in dominant form on the Repsol Honda and Jorge Lorenzo proving in Qatar that he's going to be a serious contender to retain his premier class crown, Burgess said he wasn't worried that Rossi would be cut adrift too early in the title race.
Rossi himself expressed major concerns in Qatar when asked by MCN whether he would have too much of a gap to recover in the second half of the season.
But Burgess told MCN: "I'm not worried because we can only do what we can do and the reasons will be obvious, whether it is the fitness or anything else. It was always going to be a tough task and we knew if he didn't have the surgery done early it was going to a six to seven month recovery at best. This might not be a quick fix. We're here for the long haul and we want to be ready to go racing next year and beyond. If we comeback towards the end of the year languishing in third, fourth or fifth but start to hammer home some advantage with wins, that will be pleasing enough in itself. If we don't then we haven't done enough work."