Jerry Burgess talks Yamaha return

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Valentino Rossi will end his Ducati nightmare by jumping back on a factory Yamaha YZR-M1 machine during next week’s MotoGP test at the Valencia circuit in Spain.
The Italian’s move back to Yamaha will also see the nine-times world champion continue his long-standing relationship with crew chief Jerry Burgess, which began back in 2000.

The pair won four world titles and 46 races in the most decorated period in Yamaha’s history and Rossi told MCN recently that he couldn’t imagine racing without Burgess and his loyal crew alongside him.

Rossi said: “It is very difficult to even think about racing without my team. It is like when you are with your wife for 25 years and it is difficult to imagine your life without her.”

MCN revealed that Burgess and Rossi’s crew would all be returning to Yamaha during last month’s Sepang race in Malaysia.

MCN spoke exclusively to Burgess to get his thoughts on Rossi’s imminent return to Yamaha, where he will renew his rivalry with newly crowned world champion Jorge Lorenzo.

How do you feel about returning to Yamaha?
“It is really more about the rider. He is obviously going back because he feels he can achieve something different at Yamaha and they have obviously created an opportunity for him, so they believe it too. You could call it a lifeline going back there and everybody will be waiting with baited breath for the Valencia test.”

Valentino said he couldn’t imagine racing without his crew, do you feel the same?
“We have been together through thick and thin from 2000 right up until the present, so potentially sometimes I think there is something to be gained in sport by having a change. But everybody is familiar with the Yamaha system and how Yamaha works. They are familiar with how we work too, so it is a case of plug in and play and putting us back in where we left.”

Did you think about stopping?
“I have always wanted to do what is best for the rider. I have always wanted to see it through to the day when he stops riding and that’s what I did in the past with Mick (Doohan). I wouldn’t want to upset their goals and as long as I think I can contribute I am more than happy to stay and I want to stay. For me to go on with the next generation though would be less likely.”

So you never doubted when Valentino signed that you would be going with him?
“There is always doubt because taking the rider back is one thing. Historically when employees have left in the past it is not always that easy to walk back in. That’s the same regardless of what industry you are in and it is not always a foregone conclusion. But Yamaha know us all and the same people are still there, so it shouldn’t too difficult.”

As you know Yamaha so well, does that make the job of preparing for 2013 easier?
“I don’t think the job is ever going to be easy. We understand how things work at Ducati and in the garage the systems and strategies are similar in all of the garages that I have worked in. I don’t think there will be any real difficulties. We will get four tests in before we hit the track in Qatar next year. I wouldn’t say it is going to be easy but it won’t be any more difficult that’s for sure.”

What can Valentino bring to Yamaha at this stage of his career?
“His experience. Yamaha are obviously very happy with what he did for them in the past otherwise we wouldn’t be in the situation we are now with the chance to go back. Getting a confirmation between Jorge and Valentino on development maybe prudent of Yamaha with Honda at the moment looking they have some small advantage. The two of them will be the most experienced group on the track, so that is going to be very important for Yamaha.”

For more thoughts from Burgess on how the Rossi and Lorenzo’s partnership will work in 2013, see the November 7 issue of Motor Cycle News.

Matthew Birt

By Matthew Birt