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The men behind Yamaha's success – Part 1

The men behind Yamaha's success – Part 1

The men behind Yamaha's success – Part 1

The Gauloises Fortuna Yamaha squad, MotoGP World Champions in 2004, is a cosmopolitan mix of characters. It has seen many changes since multiple World Champion Valentino Rossi joined it last winter, not least the make-up of the squad itself.

It's normal in the Grand Prix world for a new rider to bring at least one of his favoured mechanics, team helpers and personal assistants into the fold of his new team. For Rossi, so successful since he joined the top flight of the sport in 2000 as a proven champion in both 125 and 250cc World Championships, things were a little different, and the Yamaha Factory Team was heavily revamped when he joined.

Realising that it made sense not to break up a winning team, Yamaha brought no less than four of Rossi's pit crew over from their mutual previous employer, Honda. Rossi was also followed to Yamaha by some key back room staff, including the head of Yamaha's impressively proportioned hospitality efforts, so that the environment Rossi operates in when off the bike and outside the garage is still a familiar, almost familial one.

Jeremy Burgess (universally known as ‘JB'), undoubtedly the most successful crew chief of his generation, has been Rossi's crew chief since he moved into the premier class in 2000, and, before that, was behind premier class successes for Wayne Gardner and Mick Doohan. Showing his confidence in his latest charge and his new employers at Yamaha, ‘JB' followed Rossi in his move.

Quick witted and acerbic if necessary, Burgess is as Aussie as they come, and has a crew to match, most of whom are fellow Antipodeans. Burgess' own reasons for moving were entirely human. "I came because I wanted the challenge," he remarked. "To a degree I felt that if anybody had the potential to be successful, then working with Valentino would help them to maximise that potential. If Yamaha were going to listen to Valentino and myself then we would move forward. If they weren't going to listen then there was no point in hiring Valentino Rossi. Mr Furusawa did listen to him and we have finished our first season together as World Champions – an A+ report card!"

Many of the men in the garage spend a large amount of their lives on the opposite side of the globe from their homes; MotoGP for them is like a tough boarding school, with never-ending coursework and highly public exams every other weekend. As Burgess explains, that's part of the reason why they are successful. "You have to think about winning," says Burgess, "so we don't come 12,000 miles from Australia just to pick up the pay check. We're not going home on Monday morning after the race. We're here for the duration. So we're keen to hit the whole show pretty hard. "

The largely Aussie ‘Frat Pack' who work with Burgess have a unique style and approach to the job of racing. Their job, as Burgess states, is not racing, it's winning.

"We don't go to the racetrack each weekend hoping to win, we expect to win. If we finish second, third or fourth then we have to know the reasons why. I don't mind finishing second or third as long as I know the reasons why. If we finish second and have no problems then we are in big trouble. If we're second and we have problems then over time we will be able to fix those problems."

The second part of this feature will be available tomorrow on motogp.com...

Tags:
MotoGP, 2005

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