Tuesday, September 25, 2007

TWO magazine: In conversation with Jeremy Burgess

From Mamola to Doohan to Rossi, Jeremy Burgess (above) has worked with them all...

In its October 2007 issue, British motorcycle magazine TWO has interviewed Jeremy Burgess, crew chief at the Fiat Yamaha MotoGP team. Burgess, an Australian, used to race motorcycles in the late-1970s and started working with Suzuki’s grand prix racing team in 1980. He’s been working on making racing bikes go faster for the last 25 years now and he has certainly played a big role in Valentino Rossi’s successes over the last seven years. (And, er..., perhaps also his rather disastrous 2007 season?)

Anyway, here are some excerpts from the interview:

On his job being glamourous
Jeremy Burgess: “I think any job where you enjoy it, must be glamourous. I guess I see Valentino Rossi for two hours, three days a week, but I wouldn’t use the word ‘glamourous.’ It’s an exciting job.”

On not getting enough sleep…
JB: “We were developing the new full floater suspension system for Randy Mamola’s Suzuki RG500, at Paul Ricard in 1980. We were also changing the chassis at the same time and we had serious issues with crankshaft bearings. We got a total of four hours sleep over those three days!”

On working with Valentino Rossi and Mick Doohan
JB: “Our disagreements aren’t as black and white as they were with Mick Doohan. Valentino is very receptive to my suggestions, whereas with Mick, you’d have to do it his way first and then you could try your way if his didn’t work.”

On Rossi and Doohan being two different kinds of people
JB: “Mick was a very intense person. Valentino is in many ways as well, but on the outside Valentino has a sort of calmness in his presence, which Mick seemed not to have. Mick was very tough on his rivals and that’s where Valentino seems to be more relaxed. But times have changed. You look at Doohan today and you wouldn’t know him as the same person.”

On how Yamaha and Honda are different
JB: “Yamaha are country people and easy to get on with. Honda people are more like city folk.”

On how things have changed in grand prix motorcycle racing
JB: “Now there’s some organization in the scheduling [of practice sessions.] It used to be chaotic, and with independent promoters doing things in different ways, it was very difficult on the teams. And the machinery wasn’t as reliable then, so you were forever pulling things apart, working 16-hour days just to get through…”

Buy the October 2007 copy of TWO magazine for the full interview. Apart from other good stuff, it has two stories which we thought were superb – a feature on the 20 greatest bike races ever, and a shootout between the Kawasaki ZZR1400 and ZZR1200!

Also see:
2007 MotoGP race reports and hi-res wallpaper!
Yamaha and Suzuki test 2008 MotoGP bikes...
Fast past: Suzuki GSX-R1100 and Bimota SB6
Face off: 1989 Yamaha OW01 vs 2008 Yamaha R1!
Riding tips from Superbike magazine...
1952: When Ducati made scooters!
Who's the fastest motorcycle racer in the world?

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