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Gear change for Jeremy Burgess

Gear change for Jeremy Burgess

Gear change for Jeremy Burgess

When he's not working as crew chief to Valentino Rossi, another sport gets Jeremy Burgess just as revved up – Australian Rules football. Burgess has just been home to Australia during the break in the MotoGP season and took advantage of the visit to watch his beloved Adelaide Crows, one of 16 teams in the Australian Football League.

Indeed, Burgess was a special guest of the club at its pre-game lunch last Sunday and sat near the coach's box as the Crows defeated Melbourne team Richmond.

His midas touch may have been responsible for Adelaide, usually one of the top teams in the competition, winning in what has otherwise been a disappointing season. Two days earlier Burgess went to the club's headquarters to talk about motorcycles and racing with one of Adelaide's star players, Rhett Biglands.

Burgess has won nine world titles as crew chief in the premier class of Grand Prix racing – with fellow Australians Wayne Gardner in 1987 and Mick Doohan in 1994-98, and with Rossi the past three years.

Despite his phenomenal success and the esteem in which he is held in the MotoGP paddock, Burgess and his achievements are not widely known in his own country, but the giant Biglands found the Burgess story inspirational.

"It's amazing to see and hear what Jeremy's done in his career," Biglands said. "It's unbelievable to think that he's been involved in so much success with guys like Rossi, Doohan and Gardner, that he's an Adelaide guy with such a phenomenal record, yet he's not well known for it even here in his home town."

Burgess is somewhat more famous now, as a horde of television cameras was on hand at Adelaide's Football Park as he and Biglands chatted over a Yamaha R1 parked on the playing field, donned helmets in the club's colours, and practised a few ‘Aussie Rules' skills.

The quiet, unassuming MotoGP crew chief left club officials and the media almost speechless when he recounted having worked at the 50,000-capacity stadium in the late 1970s as a labourer installing the drainage system before making his way to Europe and ultimately to the top echelon of motorcycle racing. He had also played ‘Aussie Rules' as a youth in the Adelaide hills, which he still calls home.

"I've had a lot of thrills out of supporting the Adelaide Crows over the years," Burgess said. "We won consecutive premierships in the late 1990s and, while this season has not been so good, we've got a good batch of players now and the ingredients for success in the future.

"I get along to games whenever I can and when I'm away at motorcycle races I always keep an eye on the scores and the news."

However, the immediate priority for Burgess is to guide Rossi to another world title this season in the pair's first year with Yamaha since switching from Honda. Seven rounds remain in the championship, the first being this weekend's Gauloises Grand Prix Ceske Republiky at Brno.

"We've got a bit ahead of us," Burgess said. "The title is a big call, because the next seven races are on circuits that won't favour us that much. "But with Rossi nothing is impossible - and hopefully we can give him the bike to do it."

That would mean a 10th world title for Burgess – a feat the Adelaide Crows intend to mark with a special presentation of the club's No. 10 jumper.

MotoGP, 2004

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