Silvano Galbusera Interview, Part 1: On Replacing Jeremy Burgess As Valentino Rossi's Crew Chief

At Valencia last year, working for the Belgian magazine Motorrijder, I interviewed Valentino Rossi's crew chief Silvano Galbusera. The interview lived up to expectations, providing a fascinating insight into working with the nine-time world champion, and the pressures of replacing legendary crew chief Jeremy Burgess as Rossi's right-hand man. Today, we publish the first part of the interview. The second part will be published on Thursday. 

Q: It's been a big change for you coming here, perhaps the biggest challenge of your career. You have to replace Jeremy Burgess, and you have to work with Valentino Rossi. How has it been for you?

Silvano Galbusera: In the beginning, I worried about the situation, because Jeremy Burgess everybody knows is at the top. And also Valentino, Italian rider, great champion, so. The media, everyone, they want to know everything from Vale. So it's a bit critical, because I'm not experienced in MotoGP, coming from Superbike. First test it was so so, but after when we go to winter test, Malaysia, day by day we find a good opportunity to do well, with the team and everything. Because everyone is a lot experienced, is very high level, and they don't need to follow in every single moment, they know everything what they need to do, just to give them some paper and they follow everything. Then with Vale, we speak Italian, it's a little bit more easy to understand. And it was day by day more easy, more relaxed, to get the result at the category.

Q: So by the time you reached Qatar you were a good strong unit?

SG: Yes, but the problem is every weekend we learn a little bit. And now we have a good level, we are very close to Honda, we need to restart the season now, to understand the situation from Marquez and him. But unfortunately we take a time to understand, to make everything working well, and then we modify bike setting, geometry, position, so... It was a good job, but we would like to start again next season.

Q: So next season will be the first year in which you will really get to compete?

SG: Yes, what I understood from Vale, he want to move the target to the top level. So I hope we finish second in the championship, so if you want to improve the result from this season, there's only one position, one possibility! [Laughs] It's a very very high target, especially with the top four riders all very strong, and every race you need to be not 100% but more than 100%. And you need to have the perfect bike for the situation, also you need to do a good practice, because sometimes in this year we arrived to have a good bike on Sunday. Maybe the next year we need to start also Friday to have a base set up and working well. So not so easy, but we are ready.

Q: Do you think that qualifying is an area which Valentino needs to work on? Because sometimes he seems to struggle to be so fast right from the start.

SG: In the beginning, yes, but if you were to race now and the first few laps he's ready to fight. But the problem is the bike set up is not ready for qualifying. Also the last race at Sepang, we found something in warm up, and then we improve it a bit more in the race, but in qualifying, it was 80% of our potential, and in this moment, Valentino cannot push to get a good position.

Q: Is there a big difference between MotoGP and World Superbikes in terms of your job as a crew chief?

SG: No, the job is very close. The problem is the level, the level in MotoGP is very high. We need to be concentrated in every single modify you want to do on the bike. Every single change we make here makes a big difference. And the rider, you need to have everything perfect to do your best, this is the problem. In Superbike, if the bike is 90%, the rider can make a big difference. Here, if you don't have a good bike, you make only disaster.

Q: So the rider has to be perfect, the bike has to perfect, or someone else will be better than you?

SG: The small difference between the top four rider you need to recover it by the bike, by the set up. If you miss something, one tenth every lap, at the end of the race it is two seconds. So it's too big. We think one tenth is nothing, but it's unbelievable, the difference between winning and being third.

Q: Has the team changed its way of working? Has the team adapted to you, or have you adapted to the team?

SG: I don't know in the past, but this year, I have very good help from the guys in the team, from Matteo [Flamigni, data engineer], from the Japanese. I try to learn very quickly the system of MotoGP, but without the help from the guys, it was impossible. They help me a lot, and then suggest some small problems they had last year, to try to fix and concentrate on that to try to help the performance, and it was a good help. I reduce the time to be on this level...

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... the rider can make a big difference in WSB, but not in MotoGP where set-up is critical. I guess that finally bangs the ridiculous '4 Aliens' theory firmly on it's thick head.

... you could read the rest of the interview and understand that he is referring to the minuscule differences between winning and losing in MotoGP compared to WSBK. That the level is that much higher, everything has to be perfect, rider and bike.

... read what I wrote and then try to understand. The interesting article highlights the fact that riders only look good when everything is going their way (see Rossi' s rather less than stellar return to Yamaha for details). Aliens do not exist. Do you understand?

That is certainly not what I believe Galbusera meant. What he meant was that the level in MotoGP is so high that you cannot give anything away, everything has to be perfect. The bikes are so critical in terms of set up that if you don't get it spot on, you lose a second or two at the end of the race. That is the difference between winning and coming third.

The reason that set up is so critical is because the tires are so good. They the engineers to design a bike that is as close to perfection as is possible given the rules and the current state of motorcycle dynamics. It then takes an exceptional rider to ride at 100% for full race distance, lapping very consistently, and on record pace. I believe that the four riders currently referred to as aliens are four of the five best riders of all time.

A WSBK machine on Pirellis is not capable of performing at 100% from the start of the race to the end. The tires are done at some point, at which point the rider can try to override the bike to go faster. If you try to override a MotoGP bike, you go slower.

" If you try to override a MotoGP bike, you go slower."..I agree on that. It is similar with F1. The whole design is so close to limit that everything hast to be perfect to even get the chance to fight for top spot. But to use that perfect settings you also have to execute whole race perfect..and this the "alien" part of the story.

... would it not be true to say that a MotoGP bike on Bridgestone tyres is also incapable of performing at 100% over an entire race distance? How often have we heard of performance drop after a handful of laps? Over-ride and you go slower? I guess that someone forgot to tell Stoner and Marquez about that particular theory too.

Having just spent the last week writing a few magazine articles on how difficult the Honda is to ride, and going through conversations and interviews I have had with riders and team managers, I have spent plenty of time pondering the quandary of the Honda. Marquez looks to be overriding the Honda. In fact he isn't: talk to anyone who can see his data (which is every other Honda rider) and they will tell you he is incredibly smooth with his rider inputs. Exactly the same thing was said about Stoner. The precision of his throttle control exceeded by far any other rider. The bike looks a mess when they ride it, but in fact they are being very precise and smooth.

... with the two most obvious contenders sent crashing out of the way, who does over-ride a bike in MotoGP or WSB? Again, I feel that, like the Alien assessment, it's a little too subjective. I mean, Hayden won the title that Pedrosa hasn't (and probably never will) yet Pedrosa is classed (by the fictional few) to be an Alien, while poor old Hayden is seen to be nothing more than a mere Earthling. How does that work?

Since Spies' win at Assen, who else has won in MotoGP? ALIENS! Granted, one has retired, and a new one replaced him. But their status as such is only dictated by results, nothing much subjective about it.

Hayden (super nice guy) was slower than Dani. Did you miss that part?

Anywayyyyy, the original point was that it takes 'an alien' to extract 100% of the bikes potential over a race distance. The superbike guys leave enough of the potential unused, that there is room for a rider to make a bigger difference using some of that untapped potential that wouldn't be untapped by 'an alien' . Make sense now?

You seemed to misunderstand that point. We got it, I'm over it. Moving right along,... :)

Scott Redding and Pol Espargaro override a MotoGP bike. They are used to being able to push a Moto2 bike harder to go faster. They do that with a MotoGP bike and the slip down the top ten. Within the space of two weeks, Scott Redding, Pol Espargaro, Bradley Smith and Michael Bartholemy all used almost exactly the same phrase to describe how to ride a MotoGP bike: the harder you push, the slower you go. As I wrote a couple of months ago, you need to be a Zen Master to tame a MotoGP bike, not a rodeo stud.

Pedrosa has 26 MotoGP victories and has been on the podium a further 70 times. He has more podiums than any other MotoGP rider except for Rossi, who has been in the class for 5 more years than him. The fact that he has never won a title says nothing about his ability, more about his luck. There is one MotoGP rider in the top 10 who believes that if Pedrosa were on the Yamaha, he would have multiple titles by now.

The truth is that the difference between the top four is tangible. The difference between Crutchlow's bike and that of Pedrosa is negligible. Pedrosa has an advantage because of his crew, but his biggest advantage is he is just a better rider. Maverick Viñales said that the rider who had impressed him most when he followed him was Pedrosa.

Aliens is lazy shorthand, but it doesn't change the underlying truth. Put them all on the same bike, and the same four riders win, probably by an even bigger margin.

''Put them all on the same bike, and the same four riders win, probably by an even bigger margin''

I believe history showed to us that the truth is exactly the opposite.
Neither Pedrosa Rossi or even Lorenzo where fast enough when the bike or the team was not perfect.
We can not say for anyone he's an alien rider because his telemetry is almost perfect when we can still watch the race.
We saw in years that the main problem of Pedrosa for example was his luck of braveness. Of course there are some excuses but excuses stands more for let's say Cal among other riders as well.
So there is no throttle data alone saying the truth about a rider in the track.

The main think is that in current mgp, if riders do not have the best bike and mainly the best team to cover their occasionally weaknesses they (proved that they) are no aliens.

Historical facts: When Rossi tried to push on an inferior bike he spend a lot of time on the gravel. Even in 2013 with a significantly better bike he strangled a lot.
The main reasons that now he is on top is that the bike suits him and the team being one of the best covers his weaknesses.
(not trying to take anything away from his previews years triumphs)
The same goes with Pedrosa and Lorenzo.
If the bike has a problem Danny will finish down to 7 and George down to 4 despite the fact that there is an entire army of engineers to set up their bikes.

There are also some interviews on other riders saying that you can not go anywhere with 1 mechanic on (those damn) electronics where others have 4 or more.

These facts among others allow me saying that if they would give Cal Aleix Maverick Andreas or even Danilo and Hector time on one of the 4 factory bikes with the same factory team and to some "alien" riders the other way around, then probably we would speak for ''other aliens"

For me there are 4 alien bikes, 4 alien teams and only 1 alien rider. Thats Marquez.

Therefore I totally agree wit your sentence "Pedrosa has an advantage because of his crew'' just adding the word big before advantage, and strongly disagree with your theoretical point that ''but his biggest advantage is he is just a better rider''

History shows that the top 4 riders were also very successful in the lower classes, the best riders get the best bikes. Factories wouldn't put people on their bikes if they weren't the best.

Why wouldn't Honda give Cal 1/8th of the price Marc costs if it's their bike that wins?

It is the whole package, the aliens are on the alien bikes in the alien teams (to use your terminology) and this extends the difference even further.

Best way of measuring the performance of a rider is by comparing him to his teammate. When Dovizioso was in Repsol Honda he rarely finished ahead of Pedrosa. Pedrosa regularly beat and matched Stoner, and has regularly beat and matched Marquez. Despite having spent the last two years suffering with arm pump. Rossi may not have matched Stoner's achievements on the Ducati, but he was still the best rider on a Ducati by a significant margin. That's not set up, that's rider ability.

And you are right, when Lorenzo doesn’t get the set up right, he finishes fourth. Behind the other three aliens and well ahead of the rest.

No doubt having more resources to set the bike up helps, but rider talent is still the biggest difference.

It is a popular view among a certain section of the fans to believe that it is the bikes that are making the difference. Among the riders, they will tell you that there are four men who are a step above the rest.

Agreed that Hayden as teammate on the same bike is the most reliable comparison to understand the real value of Dovi and Vale.
To come to the right conclusion though we should put the correct parameters on the equation.
The first year Vale beside he first had the main changes he asked, the difference on Nicky was 7 and the second year was about 40 points.
Dovi on the other hand on his first year on the team was even better than Nicky and he simply destroyed his teammates on his second year.
These facts and stats may not say the entire truth but in this case is something we can not argue. A lot...
So we can not say: ''Rossi ... ... ... was still the best rider on a Ducati by a significant margin''

There was no significant margin, it was barely a margin on the fist year and a small one on the second, despite I agree that Vale is definitely a better rider than Niky.
The big difference on his stone years on the Duc was the bike and the lack of data for the entire new frame. When they finally collect some data things where better.
It was not that he forgot how to be one of the fastest riders on the planet

I remind that on 2 tracks they have tested before race they where half a second closer to the top. Both years.
Thats data, thats team's work, there is almost nothing to do with the rider.

Lets leave past years and come to 2015.
The fact that Aleix (whom I think he belongs to the top riders) was closer to the top, not in tracks that did not need great power like S'ring, Le Mans or Assen as we may thought, but in new tracks like Rio Hondo and COA despites the fact that the lack of power over there is a main issue, was only because top teams had a few data

My conclusion is that same riders on same bikes but with less data from the teams makes racing closer and shows more the real potential of the rider. The current situation with the alien teams is kind of fictitious.

Two proposals: a) If they would give smaller teams one or two extra sessions on Friday it would help a lot the show on the race.
b) There should be a maximum number of engineers on every garage, especially on electronics.

Nicky won't make excuses but his throttle hand was barely working at the end of his Ducati tenure. It's remarkable he is even competitive post his most recent surgery which removed the first row of bones in his hand. As an American I'd rather have him in GP fighting in the back than no Americans though.

He isn't competitive.

Don't get me wrong, like most people, I think he comes across as a top, top bloke and he has been an asset to MotoGP, but it's time for him to go.

Yes, if you restricted it to the current era.

I was wondering how the hell you could decide between some of the greats of the previous decades.. ! (and pick one of those..)

see Rossi' s rather less than stellar return to Yamaha for details

You mean that year (2014) where Rossi finished 2nd in the championship and had his highest points total (295) since 2009? You mean that year was "rather less than stellar"?!?!?


... after two less than cosmic years trying to ride a race- winning (in the hands of Stoner) factory Ducati. The point is that aliens do not exist but that stars and planets can, and sometimes do, align.

So in trying to prove the point you're trying to make -- that "aliens" don't exist -- you point out how one of the aliens was able to ride a decidedly non-alien bike to victory?

That's rather strange logic you have there.

Did you not just gave an excellent example of an alien who does exist?

Besides, it will take a lot more than your say-so that aliens don't exist when a world-renowned expert in MotoGP (Mr. Emmett) believes that they do.

I was confused about Rossi's return to Yamaha. It was actually 2013. My bad. Still, 4th is nothing to be sneezed at.

I read the article carefully and he specifically says that the difference between the top 4 riders is so close that set-up determines who wins or loses. The top 4 riders: i.e. 'The Aliens'.

Look at Ducati Rossi vs Yamaha Rossi. Or any F1 driver not in a Mercedes.

Sure we can rate the top 4 as "awesome" and I'm convinced that we'll see Rossi, Lorenzo, Marquez and Pedrosa continue to monopolize the podium for the foreseeable future.

However I am absolutely not convinced that their talent is unique, not even among their current MotoGP peers. Vehicles (obviously) play a huge role in motorsport results.

To unmask all true "other-worldly" talents the playing field needs be leveled. Bikes should be identical (or better yet, identically suited to - and set up for - their riders) while money and country of birth should not factor into success.

To me it seems that the Aliens are simply the most successful factory riders. While nothing to be sniffed at, it is likely that other riders might prove as good or better if given the chance.

Then please explain Casey Stoner vs. every single one of his Ducati teammates....

If that ain't "otherworldly" I don't know what is.

some good posts also here. but it seems theres 1 guy who lost his traction controle and slips with every post he makes.

Traction control has turned an interesting interview into a pointless discussion trying to define a word that is used as a light hearted reference to the top current racers.
It was a Moto GP rider who first used the word alien- Edwards maybe?, with a smile on his face, that some racers are so fast they are beyond mortal, as a joke. Do you know what a joke is?
The word alien was first used and then adopted after Nicky won his championship which is why he is not generally recognised as an alien, but while Rossie, Stoner, Lorenzo, and Pedrosa were mainly doing the winning.

It's just a nickname for the top few riders that are a step above the rest. The inclusion in the club is effectively decided by consensus, and no it is not formal, it is a social consensus.

Therefore, picking on the term like you are is pointless. It will change as events dictate, and the consensus shifts. The concept behind the term exists in every sport, even if they do not name it, ie: The current top three in men's tennis.

Your point that some of the other riders might be included in the 'Alien club' given a "better" ride is valid. Stoner would be a case in point, but he might not have been one in his first year on any bike. Marquez is like a counter-example, when his bike is not to his liking, he becomes a crasher.

But, the main problem is that these potential riders aren't on a bike that compliments them, or in a team which is capable of delivering what they need day in day out. All of the best riders have massively loyal teams - maybe that's another part of it - a certain element of 'X Factor' as they say.

And on that, the one rider that has the potential to be an 'Alien' if given the top step bike, in my opinion, is Maverick Vinalez. And if he does, he will mature into that. The one that currently doesn't even though I wish he would is Jack Miller.

There you go - in your very first sentence you miss the point entirely. Put Lorenzo or Pedrosa on a GP 14.2 and you'll find out if they are aliens or not.

And, given that you put the challenge out to discuss it, would you care to, in a reasonable fashion, explain what it is that I have missed? Did I not make the point about Marquez' recent form?

Because, I don't think I have missed anything. Social consensus != reality, obviously. A social consensus of 'experts' (effectively just a group of influential and rich aficionados) is effectively how fine artwork is graded and it has massive problems. But, in this case the problems have a tangible effect on people as it can override forensic analysis in art circles and massively inflate or deflate values of art. But, in the case of MotoGP, it's merely shorthand for a concept that exists in pretty much all individual sports, and is driven by results of races.

Therefore, for all of the problems, it is actually quite harmless.

I would also take into consideration that Rossi, Pedrosa, Lorenzo and Marquez are all multi championship winners in the lower classes. They have been proving their alienship since they were iin their teens and just starting at the world level. If you add Stoner into the mix they have 22 world championships between them.

I think if someone on this site said the tires were round there would be a full on argument about just what "round" really means

I think it was Matt Oxley who discussed the effect of the upcoming standardised electronics package? He (or someone he interviewed?) mentioned the small army of engineers the factory's can/will muster to explore the limits of the electronics envelop. This is one area the satellite teams, even on Factory spec bikes simply cannot match and all of sudden that tenth or two appears on the timesheets. So while I agree the 4 best Factory riders are special they are also given an advantage that these days is insurmountable, especially in this age where a tenth is seen as a sizeable advantage.
So yes, we are blessed with a surfeit of talent, but no I don't think it's all down to their "Alien" skills.
I'm not so sure about them being the best of the best regardless of what they ride either. But for an alternative set of circumstances Lorenzo could have been on a Honda and been another Dovi, good but not great and likewise as you mention, Pedro could have been a multi-time champion on the M1.
But coulda/shoulda/woulda is neither here nor there: if my aunty had a different set of gentitalia she could be my uncle.

But the usual scenario is, to get a factory ride and the factory team advantage (engineers, resources, etc) you have to be better than the rest in the lower classes which is basically what the current 4 aliens did some years ago.

Thanks for the insights, David. The rather lengthy embargo on that interview gives us an opportunity to review the effects half a season later. Silvano intimates that Rossi's lackluster qualifying sessions lay in good measure with the bike not being ready to run at the front out of the box, rather than the rider.
He illuminates how the top guys are able to get out and ride on the razor's edge from the first lap .. and stay there for ALL the laps, adjusting to tires, fuel load, track temperature, etc and remain within tenths of a second per lap of the bike's capability. Sounds alien to me!

That this site is descending to the level of other web sites with personal insults thanks to the behaviour of people like traction control.

The situation is being taken in hand. I am carefully monitoring the tone of all of the posts on the website. I am all in favor of discussion, as long as it remains reasonable. When it stops being that, posts get deleted, and in the very worst case, users get banned.

yes aliens no aliens..... small army for the software and suddenly 2 tenths appear. i dont agree on that. i think the 4 best riders are aliens alldough not for real becose they dont come from out of space :)
but put PE or Bau or SB or JM on a factory bike and the 2 tenths DONT appear.! So yes the 4 top riders are the best and we give them the name ALIENS.

Just as Stoner took all the tiny baby steps along the way as the trellis framed/ally swingarm Duc morph'd into the trellis + carbon swingarm and then evolved into full carbon monococque/carbon swingarm bike so the "aliens" have ridden the journey from rudimentary electronics to full on positional corner by corner mapping. No way could Melandri or Rossi or anybody else take the huge leap required on the D16 without the baby steps in the middle.
It's the same with being given the keys to Pedro's or Lorenzo's scooter, if you are Espargaro/Crutchlow/Vinales you just can't make an instantaneous leap, you need to learn and adapt, and realise what is actially possible with the new found army of resources behind ypu.
Unless you happen to be Marquez and ride in a very similar way to Stoner who's team you just inherited, it just isn't that simple. Is it coincidence that Marquez' performance has suffered as some of Stoners old crew have been changed out?
Nope, gone are the days of Rainey/Spencer type riding talent being enougjh. If ypu dpn't have a good rapport with your data engineer(s) you are screwed.......just ask GP winner Toni Elias: Good enough to beat Rossi one day, feather duster the next.

Are “Aliens” born or are they molded into an Alien?

Myself, as well as thousands of other have watched the development of Marc Marquez into the rider he is today. Seemingly, Marc has had a great supporting team surrounding him for a long time. His obvious talent was spotted early and skillfully managed throughout his career.

Every rider, who gets to the international level, has good people looking out them. But it’s not just raw talent, a great team and a full factory ride. I believe that the aliens have the one special extra gear, that other riders, with equal raw talent and equal support teams lack.
Marc Marquez, seemingly all smiles and is having the time of his life. Never the less, Marc would do anything, anything to win a championship. Rossi and Jorge are made from the same cloth.

Ask Sete" Gibernau what Rossi will do to win a championship? Remember what Jorge said he would do to the person thought was responsible for his helmet malfunction.

Where does Dani fit into this discussion? I believe that Dani has the same talent, supporting team, and factory support to win championships but he may not have that extra gear that Rossi, Stoner, Marc and Jorge have. In short; Dani is not willing to run over his own mother to win a race.

Riders who are good, caring, and all around good people usually do not win championships.

I used to follow basketball. One of the greatest basketball players of all time is Michael Jordan. Jordan would do anything to win a championship, or a card game, or a round of golf. Jordan hated to lose and he did not care what he had to do to win.

Remember what Lance Armstrong did to win the Tour de France. It wasn’t just the doping, it was who he had to squash to keep his doping regime going and to keep winning the Tour de France over and over again.

Of course, I do not know Dani Pedrosa, Marc, Rossi, Jorge, Jordon, or Armstrong personally. I only know them through the games/sports I follow.

However; Dani seems like a kind and caring human being. The others that I referenced have that extra gear. That extra gear allows them to be an asshole as well as world champions.

To begin, while I don't exactly agree with traction control I can definitely understand his point of view. Also, why get upset at his opinion? Isn't it good for him to take a different approach from the rest because that's what makes the site interesting. So I say let him write on. He hasn't disrespected anyone with his comments yet.

Moving on, do Aliens exist in Motogp? I think that the answer to that cant be defined into solid yes or no. While Rossi, Ped, Marc, and Lorenzo do pocess a grand amount of talent. If Crutch low was given the same bike as Marc I think that he would possess the ability to beat him. The same goes for Smith. If given a M1 exactly like Rossi's I do believe that Smith could fight with Lorenzo and the Doctor. Honestly, while skill has everything to do with these so called "aliens" I also think that mentality and psychology has a lot to do with it as well. The reason why Rossi is so amazing is because he never limits his abilities before he sets out on a goal. He believes he can be champion and so he is....or will be....maybe. The same with Marquez. Marquez doesn't tell himself that he cant do it, he instead believes he can. However, if you listen to an interview with crutchlow, he is probably one of the more negative guys in the paddock. Ive watched many interviews of him and he seems to always put a negative spin to the way he rides the bike. When asked if he can be on the podium the first thing he says is that "its going to be very hard". Or when asked about how his race went he is so quick to list off the negatives before any positive things. And he uses the word impossible alot. Now I think this is due to him being a very honest man. And I absolutely LOVE his honesty. However, I do think that crutchlow limits his abilities by how he thinks.

Don't get me wrong, im not saying that all you have to do is believe you can be champion and all of a sudden trophies are going to start manifesting themselves. However, I am saying that if you gave crutchlow an identical bike to Marc Marquez's and crutchlow really believed in every part of his bones he could be champion. Then he would be. Are there Aliens. Maybe. But I don't think they are from another planet. They are just humans who refuse to doubt themselves.

Crutchlow is a good example. Receiving Pedros upgrades when he was injured his bike is practically identical. He also regularly post very god FP and QP laptimes and just as regular he fades come race. The only way he would improve with his current form would be physiological, but I suspect that he realize that his bike is just as good as Perdrosa's and that the Repsol paint wouldn't count for much.

First, thanks david for the interesting article on rossi's chief mechanic. On the aliens, it's anybody opinion to say who are they to be. The current top four or five are definitely very talented. Rossi, lorenzo, marquez and stoner has been winning motogp championship, therefore it is unofficial agreed that they are 'aliens'. Also dani pedrosa is an 'alien' for winning many races and mixing with the best while riding with an armpump. Vinales, iannone and also aleix espargaro can be dubbed as 'aliens' in the future. Aliens is a fandom term, doesnt mean rider dubbed as such and cannot perform on unfavorable or difficult bike not deserving the title by fan.

Yes it is a subjective term, but I can have no doubts about why the top four have alien-like abilities: Not only have they won or locked out the podium countless times, but they have the ability to ride their bikes closer to the absolute limit than all the others in the field.

This riding to the razor's edge of the limit is very specific to MotoGP. Any good Motogp rider can go to 97 or 98%, but only the aliens will go to 99 or 100% race after race. Lorenzo's metronomic perfection four races in a row? Marquez ten wins on the bounce? Pedrosa's speed? Rossi's umpteen podiums in a row and leading this year's championship uninterrupted. Yes we see flashes of brilliance from others, but not enough to unseat the four.

Of course the top team support is essential, but it is an arms race against the other top four who are so good. The qualifying aberrations caused by the ridiculous soft tyre allocations shows this up even more. Poor alien qualification is almost always followed by a podium or in Rossi's case a win.

If it sounds like hero worship then fine, but their skill is a joy to behold and their will to win is awe inspiring.

One last thing I would say is that the level of near-perfection the aliens exhibit can only be good for future aliens in waiting. How else would Rossi be riding better than ever in his career if he wasn't being pushed by such adversaries....

My own view is that the superiority of the factory bikes accounts for 90% of the usually large gap between the front group and the rest, but the riders make the critical 10% difference. In other words, if all else was equal they would probably come out on top anyway, just by a smaller margin. A case in point was Rossi's miserable couple of years at ducati, on a bike that was distinctly average at best. How many times did we see him fight through the mid-pack and 'win' that section of the race. That was just talent and the ability to get the best out of a dog.

So if you put one of the mid-pack on the yam or Honda, would they now be champs? They might, but only if they could match the other 3 in the 10% extra field. And as has been said elsewhere, that 10% is made up of a host of intangibles which are most easily bundled as 'talent'. Some have more than others.

Interesting interview and discussion.

It is unusual that I disagree with David. This though...
"Put them all on the same bike, and the same four riders win, probably by an even bigger margin."

Put everyone in MotoGP on the same bike, and with the same level support staff and budget, and I feel strongly that the opposite would be true. A.Espargaro for starters, he may be a latent alien now. Swap him into Lorenzo's leathers and that kid is ready to podium with some regularity. And lots of other riders are hampered by what they don't have that the fabulous four (soon to be saying 6 I hope, including our Italian cohort) have. Few riders wouldn't close up on the front significantly with the weaponry that the fab four have. First weekend on Rossi's bike Melandri may have halved his gap to lap times of the guy placing third for instance.