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GP Week : Issue 143
36 “You only ban things you’re scared of. That’s why they banned two-strokes. The 500s would be uncompetitive against 1000s and even 800s, but they banned them anyway just in case somebody got real clever with them. That’s disappointing.” Jerry Burgess, a man of legendary pragmatism, has his own ideas of what’s wrong with MotoGP racing. Too much meddling with the technical rules is top of the list. As GP Commission delegates were starting to debate Dorna’s control ECU/rev- limiter proposal, the Australian crew chief was condemning yet another fiddle to a series that has gone steadily downhill over the last five years or so. Coming from the man who guided Mick Doohan to five world championships and Valentino Rossi to seven more, you have to wonder if Dorna is listening. Regarding the control ECU, he questions first the practicality, then the premise. “I don’t know you can do that that easily when you’ve got different styles of engines. In F1 everybody must build a four-valve engine, it must be a 90-degree vee, it must weigh 95 kg. It’s all the same engine, built by different companies. Here, they are still individual, and the factories are involved. “I can’t see for what reason people would want to suggest that sort of thing. We’re down to six engines a year now. That’s from 40, when we were with Valentino at Yamaha. You can’t keep strangling it like that and then expect to have more people involved. We need more technical partners, and we need to embrace these technical partners, not restrict them,” he says. “ The world financial environment is not great, and we need stability not continual rule changes.” Burgess is clear on the folly of backing production-based CRT bikes rather than factory-level prototypes. “If you are going to put more emphasis on CRT then you are getting away from the main game. Is that wise? I fully agree we should be cheaper, but I think that has to come from the factories. I think they have to make that decision. You still want exotic grand prix machinery, don’t you?” The problem with MotoGP machines lies as much in their isolation as their expense, he believes: “I wouldjust like it to go back to the old days, when you could buy a commercial 250 or 500. You could perhaps go a bit further and get a factory bike in the future, if you’re good enough. “ The entry level of racing was TZ250 and 350 – the same bikes being used in Europe by Agostini and everybody else. You could ride the same bike in Australia, and dream that one day you could be over here. “ That doesn’t happen with MotoGP. There is nothing. It won’t stand up because there’s no broad base. There’s no domestic championship for it. Nothing. When Dorna took it over, it became an elite sport. I still argue for engine level being 600 throughout the world: 600s in England, 600s in Italy, Germany, Australia. Somewhere between there and MotoGP lies a common ground that could make a decent championship, and still give the kids access. “Everybody would understand the cost of moving to the next variation of that particular formula. But it won’t happen in my time.” Burgess points out other advantages in the smaller size: the question of electronics would disappear, along with top riders complaining about too much electronic control: “I don’t really think that the riders should be running the sport anyway. They never have in the past – for safety issues I agree 100 percent. But you couldn’t ride these bikes without electronic componentry. “If we need electronics to control this horsepower, let’s reduce the horsepower. Let’s get down to 500s or 600s, and no control.” Burgess does approve of one decision that came out at Valencia – to lift testing restrictions on factory riders next year. To be able to test was exactly what he and Rossi had sorely needed through the past frustrating season: “I think it’s great. The reason the sport’s not healthy is we’ve got 18 prima donnas running round only 18 times a year with no opportunity to test or improve the bike. “From our point of view [at Ducati] we need our best riders on our bikes testing them as often as we can. At least to get up to the level of our competitors. I think it certainly will allow us to get up there, and I think if we can get up there, then potentially it might encourage more people to want to lease the Ducati, so the grid gets bigger. If nobody can test them and nobody can use them and the bikes aren’t competitive, what’s your customer base likely to be? “It’s really necessary. You can’t keep closing this thing down and expect it to get better. And that’s what they’ve done. “You wonder where it is all going to end ... this continuous mucking around with the whole show, and not one thing has achieved the goal, which is to bring more bikes to the grid. Nothing has done that. You make it cheaper for the Japanese companies. Do they bring more bikes on the grid? No, they don’t. They just say ... we’re committed to four, or whatever, or six, irrespective of how cheap it becomes. “I think we need to have somebody in charge of the rules of MotoGP who is a little bit more stable and has a little bit more understanding of what is required. I don’t know why Ezpeleta wants to keep interfering with the product himself. I think we can make the product good. He needs to go out and sell it to television and get the audience. “We need more bikes on the grid and it’s getting less and less by the day, which is desperately disappointing.”