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Breeding a World Champion: Part three - Jeremy Burgess (2000-?)

Breeding a World Champion: Part three - Jeremy Burgess (2000-?)

Jeremy Burgess is one of the most revered Chief Mechanics in the history of MotoGP. The Australian had already won the 500cc World Championship six times, with Wayne Gardner (one) and Mick Doohan (five), when he was entrusted with Valentino Rossi´s graduation to the elite class of motorcycle racing at the beginning of the 2000 season.


´The education Vale received from a very early age from his parents was built on by the people his father was able to place him amongst. There was a network of competent people and Valentino was able to work his way up through that. At Aprilia he learnt how to go Grand Prix racing and for that as a team we were extremely thankful. He received such a schooling from his team and mechanics through the 125 and 250 years that when he came to us he was already a World Champion twice over. It´s the old story though: you can take a horse to water but you can´t make it drink. It was a combination of a Chief Mechanic giving Valentino the option of making a very good motorcycle and of making himself a very good racer, but no-one could force him to do that. The key was that Valentino was prepared to put in the hard work which enabled him to use everything a Chief Mechanic can give him to his advantage.

´When Valentino came to my team at the beginning of 2000 there was a huge sense of anticipation around him and we didn´t expect him to find the 500 all that difficult. There was a lot of riders out there who probably hoped he wouldn´t be as good as people said he was so soon, but we had all seen how Max Biaggi had come through from 250 and knew that if Valentino applied himself then he could be as good as Max, if not better.

´I don´t think there have been any key moments over the last two years where I could say Valentino has developed into a 500 World Champion. We´ve seen a natural progression of improvement in the machine, Valentino has gradually gained more understanding and experience of the limits of a 500, a better understanding of the guys he´s racing against and adaptation to the overall physical requirements.

´I am often asked to compare Valentino with Doohan or Gardner, but it is frankly impossible. Everybody does their job differently and if the results are achieved then the comparisons don´t need to be made. Whether working with Doohan, Gardner, Rossi or whoever, my objective is to get enough information out of the rider which will enable me to give him a bike capable of a better lap time. That´s the way to develop a real team and that is the relationship we have built up over the last two years with Valentino – you don´t just see a guy going out there doing his own thing.

´The best thing about Valentino is that when he gets off the bike he wants to find some way to improve. If there´s any rider out there who would come in and say ´don’t touch the bike´, then they have reached the limit of where they´re going. Valentino is very keen to keep adjusting and working on the bike right up until the race. He knows that at 2 o´clock on Sunday he wants the best bike he can get hold of and the only way he can do that is to work logically through the practices, tests and other races. Valentino will continue to get better and better, although how long he will go on for, only he knows.´

500cc, 2001

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