MotoGP: Valentino Rossi’s Bridgestone switch ‘major loss’ for Michelin

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Valentino Rossi’s crew chief Jerry Burgess has told MCN the Italian’s controversial switch to Bridgestone tyres for 2008 is a big blow for rivals Michelin.

Rossi will make his Bridgestone debut tomorrow (Tuesday) in Jerez, with Burgess anxious to begin work with the Japanese tyre factory.

Valentino Rossi successfully manoeuvred a deal to quit Michelin as he blamed the French tyre brand for being largely responsible for his failure to pose any serious threat to Casey Stoner’s domination in 2007.

And Jerry Burgess believes Valentino Rossi’s move seriously weakens Michelin’s bid to retaliate against Bridgestone next season, with Bridgestone dominant in 2007 with 12 wins in 18 races.

“It takes a serious string out of the bow of Michelin. From what I’ve seen this year it’s Valentino who has done most of the winning with Michelin.

“It will be a win for one and a major loss for another. They have lost one of their aces for development and then you are down to Dani Pedrosa who uses tyres different to the others.

“Then you are down to Nicky Hayden who is a good rider but it leaves you a little bit thin on the ground to turn it around really quickly. 

“For Jorge Lorenzo and James Toseland, it will be a learning year for them but if they (Michelin) hit the nail on the head you can’t rule Dani out if they load everything behind him. He is a capable rider,” Burgess told MCN.

Jerry Burgess said Valentino Rossi would have only moved to Bridgestone after careful evaluation at close quarters of the performance of the tyres that easily beat Michelin in 2007.

“He’s no mug. When we left Honda and went to Yamaha none of you blokes knew it and I didn’t either but he was evaluating Yamaha during the season in practice.

“And I think he’s been able to get a lot better evaluation of Bridgestone in race conditions than he ever got of Yamaha in race conditions before he rode it.

“I’m not saying the tyres will solve all the problems but we may learn and he may learn a lot more about our bike and whether it’s for the better or worse we might find out. It’s an interesting thing to do,” said Burgess.

The Aussie said he doesn’t envisage Valentino Rossi having any problems switching from Michelin to Bridgestone tyres for the 2008 MotoGP world championship.

Jerry Burgess, who has worked with Michelin for 25 years, told MCN: “If we can come down here (to Yamaha) from Honda which was the dominant machine at the time and take up the non dominant machine and move that to the top, I don’t think we will have any trouble keeping the tyres that seem to be dominant this year on top.

“That depends whether we have got the rest of the package to go with it. From my point of view having worked with Michelin for as long as I have its always interesting to see what the difference is.

“Sometimes people have much too much belief it will solve all the problems. It might create as many as it solves so if you count up the races this year you might not find there was that much difference.”

Jerry Burgess said the performance of Bridgestone tyres on a range of different bikes gave him confidence Valentino Rossi would have no trouble in adapting, with Ducati, Kawasaki and Suzuki all running Ohlins suspension like the Italian’s factory YZR-M1.

The Aussie said: “I don’t see that us being on Bridgestone will create any problems.

“All the bikes running Ohlins suspension seem to be doing alright on Bridgestone and the one that’s not seem to be having more problems. I can’t see it causing any problems for anybody.”

Valentino Rossi won only four out of 18 races in 2007, and by the end of the year he revealed he’d totally lost trust and confidence in Michelin to turn his fortunes around.

Jerry Burgess expressed his desire to stay with Michelin for a large part of the campaign and he said: “I have worked with Michelin for 25 years.

“Valentino has won five world titles with Michelin, so essentially for every two years I’ve been in motorcycling I’ve won a title so it’s not a bad batting average.

“There’s nothing wrong with Michelin. Things change in all parts of the world and it’s good to have competition among the riders, the manufacturers and the tyre companies.

“There hasn’t really been any competition between the tyre companies in any of the classes for a long time.”

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Matthew Birt

By Matthew Birt