Silvano Galbusera Interview, Part 2: On What Makes Working With Valentino Rossi So Special

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. Yesterday, we published the first part of the interview, in which Galbusera spoke of his switch to MotoGP, and replacing Jerry Burgess. In the second part of the interview, Galbusera talks specifically about working with Valentino Rossi, and what makes him such a special rider.

Q: When Valentino announced he would be changing crew chiefs, he said he needed a bigger challenge. It seems to me that the biggest change was in his mind, rather than in the garage. Is that the right impression, did you make the difference or did Valentino make the difference?

SG: Really I don't know 100%. But from what I understood, Valentino never do something without having a clear plan of this. I think of course, he remembered back in 2010 working with me, when we worked for a very short time on the test, but I think he collect some information from [team manager] Maio Meregalli, from others. It was a bit, of course, but it was not completely that. It wasn't a complete gamble.

It could have been a complete disaster, but he already think, he already make a plan, to help also me to do a good job.

Q: What has impressed you most about working with Valentino? What makes him special?

SG: Because every time, he want to be the best, he want to improve our situation. He remember everything after the race, the bike behaviour, the position of the other riders, where he gained, where he lost. He is more than a computer. It was a good help for us to understand how to improve the bike. This is what's impressive for me, because he's fast, but at the same time he has some space in the memory to understand the bike, to understand the race.

Q: His mind is as fast as his body?

SG: Yes. This is the biggest thing.

Q: You say he remembers everything, so he can say in a 27-lap race, on lap 13, corner three, I was just turning in, and this happened...

SG: Yes, if you read my report, he says "after two laps, in that corner, I felt the drop of the tire, and then I lose something to Jorge, but I improve on the other side, because then move the bike in a different way." He's like a computer. But he's fast. This is normally not so easy.

Q: Now Valentino brought you in and changed crew chiefs, then all of a sudden Jorge Lorenzo was talking about changing Ramon Forcada as crew chief, Dani Pedrosa talked about changing Mike Leitner, and now Mike has gone. It seems like he started a new fashion. Is the crew chief that much more important than he was in the past?

SG: I really don't know. The crew chief is very important, because you need to translate the rider feeling on the bike improvement, and if the rider doesn't trust 100% the crew chief, he lose something. Maybe the bike is perfect, but he lose some confidence and cannot get 100% out of his performance. Maybe Vale started to show something different compared to the past. So you cannot stay maybe a long time with a crew chief, if you lose the confidence, you lose. The rider normally, he try to do 100% on the track, but he must feel also on the garage, on the team, he must feel 100%. If he feel 99%, something is not good. So maybe Vale felt something was not like 100%. This level, you must be 100% on everything.

Q: So you have to remove the doubt from your mind in everything?

SG: Yes. Because the result of last year was not so good, he need to understand was it him, was it the bike, or was it something else? Now he knows. I don't know what it is, but he knows.

And also maybe after that, also the other riders see him and think, can have another 2 or 3% more if you change in the garage.

Q: but there's no guarantee...

SG: No, no, it's a gamble. Because it can be right, or it can be worse. And you need to be concentrated, it's not so easy to find good people, people at the right level, who are free at any moment.

Q: A lot changes in 2016. Spec electronics, new tires, are you thinking about 2016 yet?

SG: For me, it's so far away. I start now to think about 2015, because for us, it is a big job also next year. We improve a lot this year, but for me 2016 is just too far away.

Q: Do you think you can beat Marc Marquez next year?

SG: I hope! Because I watched the race at Sepang, for me now, we are close. We need to improve a little bit in braking again, but we are close. Much more than back at the beginning. If we do another small step, maybe next year, if Honda don't make an evolution of the bike, we can fight more. Maybe the result is the same, but I think many races we will be much closer. This is good for everybody, good racing, good pleasure.

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How could you possibly keep the lid on this article since end of last year? Gives great insight into your patience and forethought. Did you know at the time this was a summer break piece? Any other great stuff out there to keep the rabid from going through withdrawl?

Because he wrote it for a Belgian magazine – it's pretty common for the publication to get exclusive rights to material for a certain period of time. I don't know about the specifics of David's contract (obviously) but it's a good bet he just reached the time limit where he can publish the material elsewhere.

This was published in the December issue last year, and although I don't have any specific periods during which I can't use things, I try to make sure the magazines get maximum benefit from it. That means using it at the earliest several months later.

Ideally, I wouldn't have to write anything for magazines, and I could save all the good stuff for the website. But I have to supplement my income, so I write articles for magazines. At certain periods, if you see the website go quiet, it's because I am writing for a magazine.

If readers want more content on the website, the answer is simple: either take out a subscription, buy the beautiful 2015 racing calendar, by making a donation, or by contribute via our GoFundMe page.

Why not put up a paywall? Those who pay get more content, etc.
this shouldn't be a labor of love for you!

autosport, motogp & wsbk websites do it!! if you are a true fan, money shouldn't be an issue. it's all about value.

Do you have a place where we could recommend article ideas? I'd love to see a series on Sponsors and why they race, how they benefit from the relationship. An article on the perfect path necessary to go from toddler to MotoGP star. A piece on what components MotoGP riders use that relate to road bikes (oil, helmets, gloves. ETC.

If not, carry on as always....excellent

An article about the Arai or Alpinestars technicians would be really cool! pre-race prep, post crash assessment and repair.
The same deal with Bridgestone or Dunlop would be abolutely fascinating:
"A weekend in the life of a front race slick" the hows whys and therefores of a race winning tyre, its preparation and maintenance would make for essential reading!

Well that makes sense. Even without a contractual requirement, selling an article to a magazine and then putting the same material on your web site for free would be a good way of making sure you never get any more jobs from that magazine! (I'm a photographer-turned-college-professor and the last time I did work for a national print publication it was before the web was quite so dominant.)

... why not entice with high quality articles that more are prepared to pay for?

Let's be honest David - what you print here is little more than that which can be readily found for free - from the other websites where you glean most of your information.

Suggestion: - provide a feedback facility to help improve your personal professional performance and possibly enhance your income. You've got the potential to improve.

Traction control, if I compare what I read on this website to websites in the Netherlands, then David must have a master degree in his journalistic performance, no need to bring him or his articles down.
But I do like to say that I don't believe in this alien thing also, they are very very good drivers, but take the equipment away, look at Marquez at the beginning of this season or at Rossi during his Ducati days and they cannot win a race either.

Quite the opposite - this is his website and he's trying to make a living from it. He has my respect for that. As a website it's just about okay, but it could be much better. A suggestions box is all I suggest - that, and a willingness to improve performance.

>>Not trying to bring David down.
>>As a website it's just about okay, but it could be much better

Then I'd hate to see a criticism! I don't agree with all of David's perspectives but his content and writing quality are a step above everybody else.

>>A suggestions box is all I suggest

You mean like a comments section?

>>that, and a willingness to improve performance.

That strongly suggests a current unwillingness to improve performance, an opinion which you may be alone in holding.


While everyone will never agree on everything. You seem to have a shit attitude when it comes to this site. I would venture out and say that you wouldn'tbe missed by anyone here. Your negitive comments would be welcome over at Soup. Thanks for playing. Now move along.

i absolutely challenge you to find a better site anywhere on the web that provides more insight, commentary, thoughtfulness and access to motogp insiders.
Given your comments generate about a one star average and your 'insight' regarding who is/isn't an alien, why, etc., go ahead and start a new competing site. I know where my dollars are staying.

I suspect that immediately after I got hold of an old race report, I would find it being ripped from my hands and be banned from ever speaking to anyone inside Yamaha again. The factories are beyond paranoid about that sort of thing. I once asked someone at Honda if I could interview one of the guys who actually writes their software. The press officer went so white I thought he was going to pass out. 

I guess that reemphasizes how important the software is. I can't wait to see what happens with the spec software next year.

Uh, but first I'm looking forward to the second half of this season - if it ever gets here!

I'm aware that there are certain optional freezes being put in place with regards to this years software mechanisms and a closed "open forum" being created to allow Dorna's technical team and Magnetti Marelli to analyse ideas put forward by the factories for the spec software next year.
If you could get some deep background Krop, from a team and/or Marelli to give up some of this gold dust and the actual control parameters and logic gates being discussed and the political machinations of such processes that would be so sweet. So, so sweet.

The system is no longer this share point thing where dorna screens ideas brought forth from manufactures. That was just hype. The new/real process is the top three facories collude amoungst themselves to produce a common level of factory software capability that they are willing to give away and share with the entire grid.

Dorna cannot reject any of the facories code or introduce any limits, prohibitions or ideas of their own. The factories completely control this "spec" software. So unfortunately the persons directly involve be as closely guarded as currently, ie behind the pale PR guy.

Very interesting.

Previously MM had spoken to the Dorna tech director, who seemed to indicate Dorna controlled development (as distinct from doing the development). Your comment says this has changed completely, and with the factories coming in the "spec" software is basically in their hands. That's quite a significant development.

Potentially worth one of David's in-depth articles ...

Even still very few people are actually intersted in this level of detail.

You may also find it surprising that each manufacture gets to nominate their own proprietary sensor that may or may not be provided to any other teams.

Spec hardware across the grid will not even be part of the package anymore. I've laid it out in the link below.

Insight into part of what makes VR one of if not the greatest we've ever seen. Such a privilege to have and to be witnessing this mans career.

Jeremy Burgess also mention the speed of Rossis mind. In the same breath he spoke of Federer, Schumacher and Michael Jordan I think. Stating that there lies an X factor into how these great athletes function.

I can imagine many riders in their debrief starting with the last thing that whappend... and that Rossi not only retains all the information, but he's also sorted it by the time he comes in and starts with the most important first. Great stuff.

I remember speaking to Freddie Spencer last year about his career highlights for a story in German magazine MOTORRAD. I knew already from the time he was an active racer that, after practice sessions, he usually went from the pit lane straight to his motorhome without taking his helmet off - to be not disturbed while he was going through the session in his mind. Some time later he would be joined by Erv Kanemoto, his then chief technician, and he could tell him all the neccesary information from every second from that sessions. What did he feel in a certain corner, and, most important, what did the bike do underneath him in that moment. To be able to do that, was a big advantage at that time - there was no such thing like data recording devices. Sounds to me like VR has just the same ability and Silvano Galbusera knows how to make use of it.

If you have the bad luck to work with a driver who doesn't recall his practise or race laps, then you are in a world full of shit ............ excuse me for this raw sentence.
If this is the case as a mechanic (or engineer if you like) you have two choices, just say, hey thats the way it is or try to "develope" your driver also to pay attention what is happening around and underneath him while he's driving.
If he cannot do this you have a very very big problem, though I have never met a driver who wasn't capable of producing some info.

And then there is the story that Spencer's ability to go fast was so unaffected by bike settings that Kanemoto took to looking at his helmet after a session to see how much sweat there was.
The less sweat the better the settings!

What is happening at Suzuka 8 hour? I know this is way off topic but I always had a huge amount of passion for endurance racing.
It would be great if MotoMatters covered the sport as enthusiastically as it does GP and SBK.
Speaking of endurance racing, old Vale is doing a fine job for Yamaha.
Even old #46 critic me has found a soft spot for the bloke.
The way he endures is surely impressive.

David- Thanks for all your work. Getting your reports is what keeps many of us from going crazy between race weekends. We really appreciate what you do.......

Now that's a funny statement about Freddie Spencer---less sweat=better settings. You have to remember, back in those days there were so many less options on things to change on the bike compared to today---less EVERYTHING. Freddie was such a natural talent at his peak, he could often ride "around" problems. My good friend, Mike Velasco was Fred's Superbike tuner at Honda---the stories he could tell like showing up at a new racetrack and being under the lap record in just three laps at a track he had never seen. All the top riders of that era were just amazing (Freddie, Eddie, Wayne, Kevin, etc.)---just like today (Vale, Marq, Jorge, etc.)---but the bikes and tires are sooooooo much better...