Ducati Disaster Stings Burgess
by chase winstead
Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Valentino Rossi sang all the correct conciliatory and sorrowful notes toward Ducati after he announced he was leaving that team after two horrific seasons to return to Yamaha. But it was easy to read through those words, as sincere as they may have been, and see Rossi was ecstatic to flee Bologna for the competitive comforts of the Crossed Tuning Forks and a chance to restore his reputation.

The toll was heavier on Jerry Burgess.

Burgess, Rossi's longtime crew chief, is joining The Doctor back at Yamaha. But he leaves the Italian team with far greater remorse than his rider.

"I felt that we could do better than we have, and that is something I'll take with me to the grave because we didn't achieve in the two years the goals that we'd for set ourselves," Burgess said to British media. "We didn't win a race, we haven't won a championship, and we haven't been able to secure Valentino's services at Ducati for the future. They were the primary goals. We had some podiums, but three in 35 is certainly not what we would have hoped for and it has been disappointing."

Burgess' frustration is understandable because more fingers were pointed toward the fickle mechanical nature of the GP11 and GP12 prototypes that Burgess failed to resurrect like he did to Yamaha's M1 in 2004, when he and Rossi arrived there after four seasons and three world titles at Honda.

There were only a few whispers in the last two years about whether Rossi's best days of a rider had passed. There were plenty of barbs about the bike, and that's Burgess' forte - even if Filippo Preziosi's intransigent, misguided plan of development probably was the main culprit.

Burgess thinks Rossi may have jumped the S.S. Ducati too early, as new ownership by Audi could have made a difference in 2013. Reviving the Desmosedici wouldn't have come instantly like it did with the M1, but it would have been possibly even more gratifying.

"I think with Audi coming on board now there might be a different sort of focus on what is to be achieved and what they want to achieve," Burgess said. "The most disappointing is that Valentino couldn't see it through to go another year with it because I do understand his point in wanting to be competitive, but I still feel that we haven't achieved what we wanted to achieve, and from that point of view I think the pressure would be really on Ducati to deliver in a third year."

For now, Burgess just sounds weary. Tired of failure. Tired of trotting the globe for more than 30 years with the Grand Prix circus. Tired of the collateral damage that Rossi's move back to Yamaha created within the team.

"Going back to Yamaha, well embarrassing is not the word but Valentino has been thrown a lifeline, and we are just sort of hanging onto the rope, as well," Burgess said. "Ben (Spies) is leaving, and in my case, his crew chief was leaving, but there were other guys at Yamaha who were good mechanics who have been pushed out. These are guys that have mortgages to pay and have families to look after, and now they are out there looking for a job.

"That doesn't make me feel that great, and MotoGP as it is now, there just aren't that number of jobs. That doesn't sit very well with me."


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