Valentino Rossi’s crew chief Jerry Burgess believes Michelin must take a bigger step in performance than Yamaha for the 2008 MotoGP world championship.
The Australian reckons tyres have been the single biggest factor in Rossi failing to mount a serious title threat to dominant Casey Stoner in 2007.
Jerry Burgess though conceded Yamaha engineers had work to do to drastically increase engine performance ahead of next season, with the YZR-M1 easily outgunned by the top speed and horsepower of Casey Stoner’s Ducati GP7.
Talking to MCN, Jerry Burgess said: “I would say clearly they (Yamaha) have less work to do than Michelin. I think if we’ve got what sticks on the road we can go fast around the corners.
“Faster round the corners means we’ll come onto the straights a bit faster and the speed deficit won’t be what you see. I attribute a percentage of the speed deficit of how we can get off the corners.
“It’s clear, you open the throttle earlier and that’s four kilometres you carry all the way to the end and build on. As you lose the grip off the corner you also lose the top speed and when the tyres are not working to tip into the corner at the other end you need support from the rear tyre.
“And if you have no grip then you run the risk of the rear breaking away. Once the tyres go off on this style of bike the working area in the braking area, because it is shorter, is far more critical so you lose big time.
“And you add that to being a little bit short on engine anyway the job becomes triply difficult. It’s important for us next year for us to start out at the level of Ducati next year.
“We’ll always be improving the engine but the actual grip on the maximum edge of the tyre we seem to have not as much as we want. We’ll work hard together with Michelin.
“I think it’s a problem that’s obvious to anybody that wants to look. If you take Ducati out of the equation and compare the Yamaha to Suzuki, we had clear track in front of us in Misano in the early part of the race and we weren’t closing that gap.
“When our tyres are brand new and their tyres are brand new we don’t seem to have the same speed. In the old days if it was Michelin and somebody cleared off you’d say ‘that’s ok Max (Biaggi) is on the soft one, we’ll catch him later in the race.’
“These days we don’t have that knowledge or the luxury. They (Bridgestone) seem to be able to carry it all the way.”
With the world championship long gone in Jerry Burgess’s eyes, he said Valentino Rossi andYamaha would still be fighting for every point in the last five races of the season, while also using the end of the season effectively as an extended winter test session ahead of next year.
“Essentially it’s not only Yamaha that we have to go testing for. If you go round the corner three or four kilometres faster and open the throttle 15 or 20 metres before and pull back on the throttle you’ll be going faster at the end of the straight.
“As I’ve said several times this year you need a good rider, good bike and good tyres and if anyone of those is missing you are not going to be running up there with Casey Stoner.
“We have got the rider, that part of the package we know we have got. The bike on a lot of circuits is not as fast as the Ducati but in the handling sections we can usually make the difference if we have got the rubber to do it,” added Burgess, who said despite Valentino Rossi’s recent problems that have seen him go four successive races without a podium, beating Stoner this season would have been a tall order.
“We’d kissed the world championship goodbye in a common sense approach to motorcycling racing after Laguna Seca. We’d given it a nasty dent in the Sachsenring and if you look back in the races where you want to move forward, Casey was 21-points in front of us going into Le Mans.
“And when we came out after Assen he was still 21-points in front of us. So we hadn’t taken anything out of his lead for a long, long time. To assume that we would in five or six races was wishful thinking,” said Burgess.
Recently, Fiat Yamaha boss Davide Brivio admitted to MCN that with a better engine, Valentino Rossi would have won in Qatar, Shanghai and Barcelona, where his biggest complaint was the superior power advantage held by Casey Stoner’s Ducati.
But Jerry Burgess said Yamaha weren’t the only manufacturer to caught out by the strategy of Ducati to go for outright top speed rather than concentrating on handling and drivability.
He said: “Not only us, but some of the other manufacturers underestimated where Ducati would set the bar.
“Having said that we have seen Valentino in the past being able to make up for a speed deficit and I think the category now doesn’t give you that working margin with a slower top speed compared to the 990.
“If we can get up there, harass Casey and the Ducati, then we’ve got a chance of driving the boat for a while. At the moment we aren’t.”