CN III IN THE PADDOCK
BY MICHAEL SCOTT
DARK SIDE OF THE MOON
alentino Rossi's sun and
moon, night-and-day helmet motifs are familiar
enough. He showed the dark
side when he sacked his crew
chief Jerry Burgess.
He had the grace to look shamefaced when confronted with the
news, which had leaked from his
inner circle before he'd even told
the man who has steered him to
seven World Championships, after having claimed five with Mick
Doohan and one before that with
It was a sell-your-grandmother
That's how everybody took it,
anyway. Burgess is a respected
figure, the most established of
the pit-lane establishment, and
the most successful. An icon, if
And when someone practices
iconoclasm, there are only two
ways to look at it.
Most chose the obvious one.
That it was an act of desperate
self-delusion, the thrashing of a
Can't blame the bike – look
how Jorge Lorenzo makes it go.
Can't blame the rider. If he
had ever doubted himself, he
wouldn't be Rossi.
Must be the grandmother
then. She'll have to go. All in the
interest of a better lap time.
Behind the ever-charming
smile, the happy-go-lucky demeanor, Rossi proved he is as
ruthless off the track as on it.
"You often read," said Burgess, "of sportsmen changing
their coach or their caddy towards the end of their careers."
How often did it work, he was
asked? Never, came the reply.
Rossi has always been good
at proving people wrong. He did
it again this year. Sadly, it was the
optimists, as he took a firm grip on
fourth place. Rossi was definitely
best of the rest in 2013, though he
frequently had to fight for it.
Usually it's the naysayers who
get it in the face. The move from
dominant Honda to win on the
underdog Yamaha being a case
in point. (For Burgess as well as
Rossi.) But that was 10 years ago
Marc Marquez was 11 at the
Having got over the overt
treachery of Rossi's move, there
is a covert element that elicits
He's had a tough time, ever
since he broke his leg at Mugello
in 2010. That championship went
instead to his teammate Lorenzo.
The last straw. "Either he goes or
I go," he told Yamaha.
Nobody could have predicted
the Ducati disaster. Least of all
Rossi and his henchman Burgess, who famously predicted it
would only take a short time to
sort out the setting problems bequeathed by crash-prone Stoner.
That one certainly came back to
savage his ankles.
Hand in glove with the factory,
the enterprise went backwards
over two years. Nothing Burgess
or Rossi did helped. The only
comfort they might find is that
progress at Ducati continued
in the same negative way after