MotoGP

Valentino Rossi has ‘hung around too long’ – ex-crew chief Burgess

Jerry Burgess, the technical mastermind behind Valentino Rossi's premier-class world titles, suggests the Yamaha rider has stayed too long in MotoGP

Valentino Rossi’s former crew chief Jerry Burgess has caused a stir by suggesting the seven-time premier class motorcycling world champion has perhaps outstayed his welcome at the highest level based on recent performances.

The Australian is credited as being a huge contributing factor to Rossi’s immense success at the highes levels of motorcycle racing, becoming the technical mastermind behind all seven of his titles at Honda and Yamaha.

Prior to that he also helped steer Mick Doohan and Wayne Gardner to their respective 500cc World Championships. Rossi axed Burgess in 2014, which at the time Burgess said ‘blindsided’ him.

Even so, Burgess continues to pay close attention to Rossi’s fortunes and he’s concerned about what he sees, pointing out that a bad qualifying – which never used to be a hurdle to a strong race result during the height of his success – is becoming a determining factor in Rossi’s fortunes.

“He has perhaps hung around a little bit too long,” he told MotoGP Australia website ahead of this weekend’s Philip Island round.

“The concerning thing is, and the sad thing for me is, he is finishing about where he qualifies. We never used to worry if he qualified 10th a few years ago, we knew he would pick up four or five spots and be on the podium or challenging for the podium.”

Jerry Burgess questions if Rossi can ever bounce back

“Whether that is another step down the slippery slope or not, who knows?” he continues

While Burgess doesn’t rule out Rossi’s ability to bounce back, the Aussie’s words provide legitimacy to what many are increasingly coming around to – whether they want to or not.

Indeed, few people know what goes through the mind of Valentino Rossi better than Burgess, which is why his assertion that he has been competing in MotoGP ‘too long’ carries heavier weight than most.

Though his legend in the sport is assured and will live on beyond his tenure in the sport, it has been a fairly dismal season for Rossi thus far no matter how you look at it.

The Italian has justified his lacklustre pace as being down to the limitations in the Yamaha M1 – which is down on power compared with its rivals – and is working hard to push through changes more to his liking. He will also take on another crew chief in 2020 after promoting Davide Munoz from his VR46 set up.

The biggest problem facing Valentino Rossi

Troublingly for Rossi, while his criticism of the M1 is echoed by his Yamaha counterparts – Maverick Vinales, Fabio Quartararo and Franco Morbidelli – they have at least been able to ride around the issues and maximise the bike’s alternative strengths in cornering and braking, especially rookie sensation Quartararo.

Rossi, on the other hand, has managed only two podiums (to Vinales and Quartararo’s six apiece) and is in danger of finishing behind both overall. He is currently 24 and 18 points adrift respectively.

As such, while Rossi’s future has been on the lips of every journalist in 2019, a question that once read ‘will Rossi choose to continue?’ is changing to ‘how will Yamaha look ahead with or without Rossi?’. 

Commercially alone, Yamaha would keep Rossi over probably Vinales any day – and replace him with Quartararo - but it may now feel differently about adjusting the 2020 Yamaha M1 in Rossi’s vision given how well it otherwise works in the hands of three other riders…

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