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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