MotoGP: 11 Follow Rossi to Ducati
2011 MotoGP News
When Valentino Rossi departed with Yamaha after seven successful years, it was the hottest MotoGP story since the Italian broke his leg at Mugello.
Rossi was now united with his native Ducati, a move that paired Italian with Italian like the 31-year-old’s former nemesis, Max Biaggi; the "Roman Emperor" Biaggi took the 2010 World Superbike Championship aboard an Aprilia, the first Italian/Italian win since the WSBK series inception in 1988.
Rossi will be hoping to do the same for MotoGP in 2011, but he knows he can’t achieve this task alone. And this is why 11 members of his former Yamaha team have made the switch to Ducati with the nine-time world champion, including Davide Brivio, a 19-year veteran at Yamaha.
Along with Brivio, some many other notables made the switch: Rossi’s guru technical boss Jeremy Burgess, track engineer Matteo Flamigni, and four mechanics Alex Briggs, Brent Stephens, Gary Coleman and Bernard Ansiau.
Also joining Rossi at Ducati are two logistic personnel, Roberto Brivio and Emanuele Mazzini, two hospitality personnel Max Montanari and Emanuela Salvetti, and his chef Michele Quarenghi.
The two big players for Rossi’s success with Yamaha are Brivio and Burgess; together, the two helped Rossi achieve four MotoGP titles on the Yamaha M1 adorned with the venerable 46.
Although Brivio put much time in with Yamaha, the former team manager of Rossi wants to remain by the champ’s side. Brivio, who does not have a clear title on the Ducati Team as of this writing, was the first to officially announce he would be leaving Yamaha at the end of the season.
Brivio reported his departure before the final round of the 2010 MotoGP Championship at Valencia, when it was yet to be confirmed that Rossi was making the move to Ducati (although rumors heavily saturated the paddock).
During his time with Yamaha, Brivio had various roles, including team manager of the factory World Superbike Team, then Team Manager at the factory MotoGP team and the Team Manager of Rossi and his crew. He will now take that experience and help Valentino Rossi on the Ducati Team.
As for Burgess, him and Rossi have worked together the longest. The 57-year-old Australian has been united with Rossi since the Italian’s debut year in the premier class with Honda in 2000 (500cc). The two have never parted, and won seven world titles.
Together, the two took second in the championship in 2000, then won three consecutive titles on the Honda, and followed those titles up with two more the following years with Yamaha, making for five consecutive titles.
Together, Rossi and Burgess helped Yamaha develop championship-winning machines. Burgess has also garnered a championship with Wayne Gardner, and five with Mike Doohan, both on Honda.
It was initially unknown if Burgess would follow Rossi, but many knew it was just inevitable. Burgess, who almost retired after his years with Doohan due to seeing too many accidents, will now carry his and Rossi’s winning MotoGP relationship over to Ducati.
In an Italian report, Burgess says: "you only meet someone like Valentino once in your life if you’re lucky. After you’ve worked with him, it would be hard to work with another rider. As well as being fast, he also is also charismatic, fascinating and intelligent, qualities which make every minute you’re with him exciting and absorbing."
No matter how intelligent, Rossi has much work ahead, and so does the team. All members of Rossi’s inner circle now have to retrain their minds to work on a different make of MotoGP machine, as the Ducati MotoGP bike is far different from the Japanese motorcycles they were used to tooling with.
Will it be immediate progress as it was during Rossi’s first year with Yamaha in 2004 when him and the team took the MotoGP Championship? Or will Rossi and company need a season or two to rework the Ducati?
Just as the hottest story in 2010 was the Rossi / Ducati marriage, the big story for 2011 will surely be the outcome of this MotoGP Italian unity.