The man who guided Wayne Gardner, Mick Doohan and Valentino Rossi to 500cc world titles, Australia’s master Grand Prix crew chief Jeremy Burgess, will be special guest at the AMCN International Island Classic on the Australian Day long weekend (Jan 23-25) at the Phillip Island Grand Prix circuit.
Burgess will be the star attraction at the traditional Welcome Dinner — which in 2015 will be held on the Friday night — and is set to entertain the bike-loving throng with his tales of more than two decades on the grand prix scene.
“I can’t wait to get to the Island Classic,” said Burgess. “I have always wanted to attend but it has always been difficult with MotoGP testing commitments, but now that isn’t an issue I’m free to make the trek over from the Adelaide Hills.
“I’ve heard this dinner is huge, and there’s no doubt I’ll run into some faces that I raced against in Australia in the 1970s before I headed off to Europe.
“This will be the first big historic bike meet I have attended, and I’ll be doing plenty of other stuff over the weekend. And it will also be great just spectating and soaking up the atmosphere.”
With decades of racing experience, Burgess knows his bikes. Since July 1980, his band of riders has won 160 500cc and MotoGP races and a total of 14 world championships.
He has prepared winning machines across the spectrum — from the Suzukis of Randy Mamola to the Hondas of Ron Haslam, Freddie Spencer, Gardner, Doohan and Rossi.
Between Gardner, Doohan and Rossi he yielded 13 world championships – one with Gardner way back in 1987; five with Doohan in the ‘90’s; and seven with Rossi.
Burgess spent 21 years with Honda, joining in late 1983 before the move with Rossi to Yamaha in 2004 and following to Ducati in 2011 and 2012. They spent a final year with Yamaha in 2013 before Rossi, somewhat surprisingly, ended their long-term union.
Rossi and Burgess represent one of the world’s great sporting partnerships, and over their 14 years together competed for three marques and scored over 60 GP wins.
Burgess grew up a farm boy, living in the Adelaide Hills surrounded by machinery. He learnt to drive at eight and owned his first car at 12. Within a week of leaving school, he purchased his first bike for the track, a 1969 Suzuki T500 Cobra. From 1972 to 1979, he rode in Australia, competing against many greats including Gregg Hansford and Warren Willing. He had much success, particularly once he boarded a Suzuki RG500, and he honed his skills working on his own bikes to eventually become a master of reliability, speed and power.
Friday night’s Island Classic dinner will be hosted by veteran motorcycle broadcaster, Will Hagon, and tickets are $135 per head with beer, wine and soft drinks included. Celebrations kick off at 6.30pm with drinks and canapés on arrival and a two-course buffet dinner and interviews on the stage from 7:00-10.30pm.
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