Looking Back At 2013 - Rating The Riders: 4th, Valentino Rossi, 8/10

In the fourth part of our series looking back at 2013, we take a look at Valentino Rossi's season. To catch up with previous instalments, you can read part 1 on Marc Marquez, part 2 on Jorge Lorenzo, and part 3 on Dani Pedrosa.

Valentino Rossi Yamaha Factory Racing
Championship position: 4th
Score: 8/10

Valentino Rossi left Ducati at the end of 2012 with a palpable sense of relief. At last he would be back on a bike with a front end he could trust, and could get back to being competitive. The goal was to test himself, to see if he could still run at the front with the Jorge Lorenzo and Dani Pedrosa, he repeatedly told reporters in the preseason.

Testing looked promising. Rossi was a little way behind the Hondas, but so was his teammate Jorge Lorenzo, and that was the man he had to measure himself against. At the first race, Rossi was straight onto the podium, dishing out a lesson in racecraft to Marc Marquez along the way. It looked like he was finally back in business.

Qatar turned out to be something of a false dawn. Rossi struggled in Austin, and could only manage a distant fourth at Jerez. That was an omen of things to come, Rossi racking up a grand total of 8 fourth places during the season, only getting on to the podium when one or other of the top three were injured or otherwise struggling. Despite the difficulty, the wily veteran still managed to bag himself a win at Assen, his first in nearly three years. It was a moment of release for the Italian, but even during the press conference, he conceded that his win was in no small part due to his teammate's injured collarbone. Rossi cemented his place in the MotoGP hierarchy: the fourth best rider in the world.

Was the problem age, talent, or equipment? That question is still unanswered. Age must surely play a part, but Rossi's biggest problem was an inability to get the bike to brake as he wanted. The new, less stiff front Bridgestone introduced during 2012 was causing Rossi problems, the bike lacking stability as he tried to slam on the brakes as late as possible. It was, he admitted, in part his own fault: when Bridgestone had brought the front tire in 2012, he had seen its weakness then. But given the miserable time he was having getting the Ducati to turn, a softer front tire might actually help, but slowing down the others. 'We were already in the sh*t,' Rossi commented, 'so it made no difference'.

In 2013, he wished he had held out against the softer front. While Jorge Lorenzo could use his strong point, braking earlier, less abruptly, and carrying more corner speed, Rossi and his crew turned his bike upside down in the pursuit of better braking. At a test in June at Aragon, the Italian thought he had found something, but though it was an improvement, the problem remained. It would never go away entirely, and Rossi was never able to change his style enough to compensate.

At the end of the year, Rossi took a radical step, sacking his crew chief Jeremy Burgess, the man who has guided him throughout his entire career in the premier class. That move was widely seen as an act of desperation, thrashing about trying anything in the hope of improvement. Sacrificing Burgess leave only one variable left to blame. By the end of 2014, we will know whether the problems lay with Burgess or Rossi.

High point:

It had been a long, long time, and the relief was palpable. Rossi celebrated victory at Assen with fervor, it having been over two-and-a-half years since his last win. Rossi's 80th premier class win (and his 106th in all classes) was huge. True, it had been taken while his teammate was injured, and Dani Pedrosa had struggled with tires, but a win is a win, and Rossi celebrated it as such. It also came after a successful test at Aragon, giving his confidence a much needed boost. The euphoria did not last long, but Rossi proved that he still had it in him, at least when the stars aligned.

Low point:

Rossi's 2013 MotoGP campaign reached its nadir at Mugello. Finally back at the track he loves so dearly on a bike that at least allows him to ride, the Italian had high hopes of success. A poor qualifying session - something Rossi struggled with all year, only really getting his head around the new, 15-minute session towards the end of the season - left him down on the third row of the grid. His race lasted just three corners, before Rossi ended in the gravel alongside Alvaro Bautista. The two men had taken wildly different lines out of Luco, and those lines intersected on the entrance to Poggio Secco. Blame was hard to apportion, though Rossi made no secret of his belief the fault lay with Bautista. Rossi now has his hopes pinned on Mugello in 2014, perhaps more of his hopes than he cares to admit.

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It is your system, David, but I think 8 might be a little generous. I'd love to see where Bradley, Cal, Stephan and others score. If Marques is just one point ahead of Vale after their worlds apart achievements this season...

... and I'm a big Vale fan.

I'd argue that the low point was tossing Jeremy under the bus. Up until that point I'd give him a 7 at most: competent, but not remotely competitive, and generally not worthy of the machinery beneath him.

Subtract at least a full point for the shameful treatment of Burgess. Weaseling and worming and trying to blame Yamaha for his actions only made it worse.

I did consider that moment. But I was looking at it more from the perspective of Rossi himself, rather than from my perspective as an outsider. Rossi bore the news of Burgess' sacking with the appropriate level of contrition. But it was also something of a relief for him, as he clearly believes it was necessary.

Interestingly, the reaction inside the paddock was almost unanimous. Nobody believes it is a positive move, or that it will have a positive effect. For the first time since I have been actively involved in the paddock, Rossi has lost his aura of untouchability, and he lost it with that single piece of news. If there was one decision which turned him from Alien to mere mortal in the eyes of the paddock, it was sacking Burgess.

At the morning-after press conference, I thought Rossi looked more guilty than contrite, like a politician caught on TV snorting a line with the neighborhood hooker. ;) All twitching and fake smiles and nervousness.

Apart from the nuked cred, I think this incident also allowed the average fan their first-ever clear view of the ruthless, selfish operator lurking behind the "Yellow Happy Mask."

and Aliens must be faultless beings.

Aside from everything of how it was done, there is actual brilliance in the move to sack JB. If one accepts racing as purley a marketing / entertainment endeavor, then the move ensures he'll be part of the headlines for at least sometime longer. Somthing that Yamahas new title sponsor and brand VR46 would otherwise be facing an acute lack of at the start of 2014, and now he's going to be back to beign part of the story line again...

Concur with others, Vale doesn't deserve an 8/10. You can place him 4th (sure, he came 4th after all) but almost a full 100 points behind the winner of '13 ? His only victory of the season taken when Jorge had a freshly plated collarbone, and Marquez also riding with multiple fractures, is not much of a victory.

VR46 7/10 - and generous at that, given the disgraceful sacking of burgess which will do nothing for him. I'd rate Aleix Espargaro on an even keel, if not higher, for his fantastic efforts on the CRT yet again.

funny rossi won it. jorge was injured for sure. but the rest of the field then? if its nothing that win..... how do you call the rest of the field like bradl bautista cal crutchlow dani pedrosa. yes mm was little injured, his pinkie finger. rossi qualifying was nr4. cal 1. mm 2nd. so how bad must the other rider be to lose from rossi. if you call this win no victory. how do you call it when a rider wins the title when his biggest rival was injured for 6 months? ioh i know.... not much of a victory.... hollow champ?! yeah im with you pooch. i feel you!!!

were not allowed to win...well,some of them weren't allowed to win,others just didn't try very hard and decided to just let Rossi take the top step(just a silly theory to fit the silly premise,no reality involved..)...Same as when Nicky won his title...they gave it to him,he didn't actually beat the field....although MM apparently is allowed a pass on this ,although it is pretty clear that a healthy JL had more than enough for him.....when healthy....but that isn't how it works....a rider beats those he is racing against and the winner is the winner,no body gives them anything and everybody wants the win....Nicky for the title,Rossi at Assen and MM for his title...fair and square,earned,not given.....The only part of the Burgess saga that I find hard to understand is the timing...season ends and they part ways...a gentle retirement,a last effort to find a solution to the braking problem....the next morning news flash/shock was too abrupt,and not befitting the respect Burgess deserves...clearly taken aback and clearly hurt.....

After what Rossi did to JB (after all they have accomplished together through the years) I am no fan of who he is nowadays! From 2010 and prior years... he was the G.O.A.T but now he's just Rossi. Time for VR to head to WSB before Hayden does and attempt to win that title before he loses any more of his dignity.

"The new, less stiff front Bridgestone introduced during 2012 was causing Rossi problems, the bike lacking stability as he tried to slam on the brakes as late as possible."

Allow me to repeat myself. I don't have to be politically correct.
The new, less stiff front Bridgestone introduced during 2012 is a total joke. It is complete garbage. Stoner said so, Rossi knew it, and even Pedrosa crawled out of his shell to grumble about it. "was causing Rossi problems" That has to be the understatement of the century, or is everyone watching a different MotoGP to me.

Lets see what have we got:
1/ Increase weight limit so they weigh more than road bikes. (see Durbahn's website)
2/ Decrease fuel limit so only factories with budgets of millions to waste on useless electronics can program the things to not run out of fuel. "Oh yes, we need this technology for selling scooters in Asia" and using less fuel is "environmentally friendly for gay whales". Then lower the fuel limit some more for 2014.
3/ Decrease amount of engines available so that only those made from unobtanium can last long enough. Justified as "reducing costs". You could make it one engine for the year, and Honda would spend half a billion to build that engine. Hey Dorna, by all means serve up the tripe but don't expect us to swallow it.
3/ Limit the bore size so that a Desmosedici road bike is too radical to enter in MotoGP, "The Prototype Class", LMAO
4/ Throw in a front tyre with a flimsy carcass because of a few freak cold days and throw the good tyre in the bin.

What a farce!

Ok. Maybe I did not hit the save button on my last comments, so I will make shorter comments.

Rossi has lost his magic. He is no longer the magical "Elf" that people have seen him as when he was younger. Him with Jerry Burgess created beautifully entertaining races. Even when he could run off in the distance on other racers he would wait until the end and make it seem like it was a challenge for the "Show". That was until Lorenzo, Stoner, and Pedrosa came along. Then he had to truly race as hard as possible to win. He was exciting on and off the track. The head games to the racecraft, unmatched. He seemed like he was unbeatable. Always making something happen even when his bike was not the best. Then the slide in speed as Lorenzo got better and better. The move to Ducati, another decline in speed. Finally, the sacking of Burgess like he was just some insignificant person. I will not forget the look on JB's face at the press conference. I am sure Stoner is LHMFAO right now looking at Rossi prove himself to be all that Stoner saw him as. Still a fan of Rossi, but he is no longer my favorite. His core has rotted with the erosion of his skill.

Averagerider (formerly whorida)

Damn I'm getting old & can't keep up... I gave up after the "L."

Anyway, Rossi's core didn't rot, it was only exposed for what it always was.

The incredulity of his "fans" is amusing.

Laughing his motherf****** ass off. Yes Rossi has been ruthless and I have thoroughly enjoyed it. I know it was said that an Italian journalist leaked the story but that sounds like cow dung to me. Don't know the full history of Crew Chiefs and championships, but I believe Jeremy Burgess was if the not THE most successful, one of the most successful crew chiefs ever. He should have been celebrated into retirement, not booted like an errant mutt trying to bite your child. Yes Rossi has been that way to plenty of people outside of his circle, but this is like snitching on a partner in crime and sending him to jail for something Rossi himself did.

I don't really get the harsh treatment of Rossi for letting Burgess go. He didn't kill his dog, didn't sleep with his wife, didn't steal any money from him... he let a man go from his job, because he felt (probably wrongly) that the change will make him a more competitive motorcycle racer. Isn't that what they are paid to do?

Rossi and Burgess were the dream team, but they're not married. And Rossi helped make Burgess a very wealthy and respected man (and vice-verse of course). I would be willing to bet they called each other over Christmas to wish we each other the best.

Do we think Burgess would be shy about letting a mechanic go if he wants to head in new direction? I wouldn't think so.

And if memory serves, the reason it was handled the way it was (which seems to tick so many people off) was because a journalist broke the story before Rossi had a chance to talk to Burgess in person.

All that said... I am one of the people think that Rossi made an error in his decision.

The harsh treatment is because Rossi is essentially making a scapegoat out of JB, when everyone knows his slowdown has got very little to do with JB as a Crew Chief. It makes Rossi, once a giant, look very small.

He could prove all us nay-sayers wrong next year, but I won't hold my breath.

Given that even JB had not been told, who do you think told the journalist?

If you respect a person you make sure that they hear this type of news from you directly. That means you tell them before you tell the journalists (or ANYBODY who would tell a journalist)

The hatred for VR is disturbing, notably, and not surprisingly, it comes from
Small sections of mainly Australian and American supporters. Unless any of the detractors here have personal experience with Rossi and Burgess and the inner workings of the team than it's mostly shit-slinging based on conjecture. Even Mr Emmett has been severely critical of Burgess and Rossis team, essentially saying that Rossi has been the one that's made them look far better than they are, as Doohan and Gardiner did previously, personally I don't hold this belief.

As painless at least has pointed out Dorna, Bridgestone and the Msma deserve far more shit slung their way for this strangled series, combine this with VRs age, which is close to a decade higher than his main rivals and I'd say he's still doing pretty well, removing Burgess may yet be a good move and it's not like JB will be out on the street, I'm sure he's done very well out of this partnership-this is just another great bit of ammo for the haters, of course VR is ruthless, anyone been watching on track for the past 18 years?????. A bit of effort from the sole tyre supplier and an open class entry with more fuel/engines could make for an interesting result.

5/ Force all the racing motorcycles to use the same tyre. That way all the bikes are forced to follow the same engineering to suit the tyre. This ensures that innovation, like different steering and suspension systems, can never be developed. Hooray for the technical minded geniuses at Dorna. Do you have to be brain dead to get that job?
6/ Maintain the ban on forced induction because um ...... oh I remember the Germans were winning the races after WW2 and we hated them because of the war. Therefore to make 230 hp you have to have an engine that costs the planet. As opposed to one that costs squat with a perfectly linear power delivery that would negate the need for all the ridiculous electronics.

None of these things will ever be considered because the 'technical' committees are made up of friends, relatives shareholders representatives and other 'important' people. The extent of their technical expertise includes trying to replace the gas bottle at a friend's barbecue.

It used to be that Roberts, Sheene et al would call strikes and fight tooth and nail to try and maintain some sanity. Now we have a few bleats here and there. If I was in Stoner's position I too would have told them where they can shove their stupid 'prototype' race series.


im totaly with you! this i like to read because its 100% the truth!
Dorna is talking about 1 litre of full but makes the bike more heavy to consume more full and its harder to stop after the straights and the more heavy people like rossi who like to brake very hard it becomes almost impossible. rossi also uses more fuel than say dani...way more so he loses power towards the end. if dorna wants do this then they have to make 1 weight for rider&bike! this way its totaly not fair.! honda has midgets, yamaha giants.!
oh i forgot 1 thing..Honda made 5 totaly new prototypes in2012/2013 so dorna is the biggest liar in motogp. because what would that cost 5 totaly new prototypes? dorna must think that 1 litre of fuel cost more than 5 prototypes in 1 1/2 year?
24 litres back weight go's down agian own engine layout and done

A Greek tragedy. This bloke should have called it a day back in 2010. Nevertheless, he put in a stoic performance 2013 back on his most loved steed.
I figured 7 out of 10 would have been par for his illustrious course. His gameness at one quarter canter was impressive. Alas! Welkom 2004 is no longer part of his repetoir. Ageing is a bitch.
Nonetheless, fair assessments all round.

"I don't think we can see the full potential of the Ducati because Casey isn't trying hard enough." - Valentino Rossi 2010. I wonder what Rossi's response would be if someone told him that we can't see the full potential of the Yamaha because he isn't trying hard enough...

Whooohoohoo Themba, I think two things could happen, a: you will have to duck very quickly or you will mee his fist, b: he will break down and admitt that CS did a more then outstanding job, but I think that most people thougt (included myself) that the speed of the Duc gave CS the advantage and Rossi proved that we were all wrong. CS is a much better driver then I thougt at that time that he was. Shame, shame , shame on me !!!