Racing can appear a ruthless business at times - as illustrated at the Valencia MotoGP finale when Jeremy Burgess was shown the door after a record 80 wins while working as crew chief for Valentino Rossi.

As well as the seven titles with Rossi, Burgess - who entered grand prix racing in 1980 - also contributed to world championship honours for Freddie Spencer, Wayne Gardner and Mick Doohan (five).

To pay tribute to the Australian's mechanical genius we have chosen six of arguably the finest victories he inspired during a glittering grand prix career...

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1988, Spa-Francorchamps - Reversing Gardner's fortunes
It wasn't an altogether strange phenomenon for the Honda Racing Corporation to get carried away with their own success in the eighties and early nineties. 1988 was a case in point. Wayne Gardner had won his first world championship the year before, yet his new NSR 500 sported few of the reliable components that took him to the crown.

The new model was lowered in a bid to improve handling while the engine had around 1,000 more revs. And in Burgess' own words the reigning world champion "got a little bit too much of an engineering brain on him, and decided he was going to reinvent the motorcycle." The result was a bike that tried to throw Gardner off at every opportunity.

The Australian started the year strongly, narrowly missing out on wins to Kevin Schwantz, Eddie Lawson and Kevin Magee in the first three races, but when he finished 28 seconds behind the winner in Jerez, then 15 back at Monza cracks began to appear.

Personnel changes and lack of testing time were just some of the issues that irked Australia's first 500cc champion. "It's hard to keep it in line and stop it from shaking. They [Honda] need to be prepared to listen more," he told the media midway through the season.

Luckily crew chief Burgess was listening and took matters into his own hands. "There's not a day gone by that I don't look at something on the bike and wonder if it couldn't be made better," he told Michael Scott at the time. And make it better he did. Courtesy of hacking and welding the '88 frame into a different shape, Gardner began to pick up some momentum.

He crashed out when fighting for the lead at the Salzburgring but then won three races in a row, halving Lawson's lead in the championship from 40 to 20 points. The finest of these was undoubtedly his imperious ride through the puddles at a soaking wet Spa-Francorchamps. Of all places to ride an ill-handling NSR, this was surely the most daunting.

Handling improvements allowed Gardner to take the initiative at the start, building a comfortable lead over Christian Sarron. When the Frenchman crashed out he coasted home 30 seconds ahead of Lawson to breathe fresh impetus into his title defence.

The winning run not only demonstrated the undeniable bravery that took Gardner to the previous year's crown, but Burgess' ability to adapt and work with the materials afforded to him.

1992, Hockenheim - Getting the most out of Honda's 'Big-Bang' NSR
As 1991 came to an end and Yamaha's Wayne Rainey was toasting his second championship success at his home in Monterey, both Burgess and Mick Doohan were licking their wounds.

Three years into their working relationship and Doohan had only four victories to his name. The elusive 500 championship was notable by its absence.

Doohan had persistently told the Honda engineers to focus on driveability rather than their inherent desire to see their bike at the top of the speed charts. Over the winter Burgess was instrumental in changing their collective thinking. He reminded them of Freddie Spencer's title in 1983. Hadn't Spencer defeated Roberts on the sweet handling NS500 triple that lacked the V4 Yamaha's top end?

Speaking to Mat Oxley in the late '90s Burgess said, "We wanted the HRC guys to think in that direction rather than being blinded by top speed. We told them we needed acceleration between corners."

The result was spectacular. Honda altered their engine design, packing the power pulses closer together, which allowed the rear tyre sufficient time to grip between each burst. In effect the rider had a more forgiving power delivery and the 'Big Bang' motor was born.

Lap times may not have dramatically improved but the new firing order didn't punish the rear tyre as it did before. Doohan took full advantage of the increased rideability. After he shattered the competition at the fourth round at Jerez, becoming the first rider since Agostini in 1972 to win the first four races, it seemed his first championship win was a mere formality.

The circus rolled into the awesome long, drawn-out curves at Hockenheim for round seven and Doohan produced, perhaps, the most dominant victory of his career at one of his favourite tracks. He qualified on pole by nearly one and a half seconds and, aided by a new concoction of Elf fuel that increased the top end, was never headed after the first chicane.

At the death Schwantz was a demoralising 24 seconds in arrears. Gardner was the closest Honda, a further 11 back. It was common knowledge Hockenheim had, in Lawson's words, a 'Honda lane' but one of its finest facets was the close racing it produced. The winning margin had been less than 0.3secs on the two occasions the 500s last raced there.

That Rainey was watching on the sidelines after a qualifying spill was almost irrelevant. Even with him there this kind of domination hadn't been seen, arguably, since the days of Agostini.

Burgess often cited this triumph as one of his greatest satisfactions, displaying that mechanical desire to witness the package ridden to its maximum. As he wryly commented in later years, "Hockenheim isn't a place where you normally win by 24 seconds."

1997, Shah Alam - Laying down a marker with the 'Screamer' NSR
?lex Crivill? arrived in Malaysia for the opening round of 1997 buoyed by pre-season talk of a title challenge. '96 proved he could consistently run with the might of Doohan, and on occasion beat him. This was the Spaniard's chance to make a true fight of the championship.

Yet on the other side of the Repsol garage Doohan and Burgess had been working on something a little different for the upcoming season. The Australian, now a three time world champion, was looking for ways to spice up his racing after years of serial dominance.

Honda reintroduced the 'pre-big bang' 500 with a 180 degree firing order where the cylinder pairs fired evenly, giving the NSR greater torque and midrange power. Crucially it gave Doohan, whose first grand prix experience was on the tyre splitting 'screamers' of the late '80s, a direct connection between the throttle and rear wheel. "I much prefer riding this bike," he declared upon arriving for the first round.

The problem for team-mates Crivill? and Tady Okada was that they didn't. They turned down the opportunity to race 'The Screamer' as its power delivery was too fierce. The big bang configuration was gentle and predictable by comparison.

Okada took the first pole of the season but Doohan dominated the race, easing home ten seconds ahead of Crivill?. The Spaniard was dogged by tyre wear in the closing stages while Doohan's clever tyre management allowed him to quicken his pace as the race progressed. It was the first of a record twelve victories in 1997, five of those won by over ten seconds, as Doohan mauled the opposition.

Burgess and Doohan's tactic was clear from the off: Demoralise everyone in sight. Burgess helped out with the occasional snipe at Crivill? in the press. "I can understand why he prefers the other motor, because that's what he is familiar with. Mick knows both and likes this one more." Crivill? ended the year a distant fourth, 168 points behind his team-mate. So much for a two-way title fight.

Doohan laid down a marker at the first race, proving he was not only faster than his rivals over a single lap but comfortably so on race rubber. And, more importantly, on a bike his rivals couldn't handle. In the murky humidity of Shah Alam the Australian had gone a long way to convincing his rivals he couldn't be headed all year.

2004, Welkom - Winning with Yamaha first time out
When asked to describe his working relationship with Valentino Rossi "Experience, understanding... and the quality to work through problems methodically," was Burgess' reply.

This systematic method was never more apparent than the beginning of 2004. The task of turning an ailing factory into championship challengers in little over two months represented Rossi's biggest challenge as a rider and Burgess' biggest as an engineer.

The Italian had grown disillusioned with Honda's corporate dealings and decided moving to Yamaha, a factory that hadn't won the MotoGP crown since 1992, would not only bring fresh enjoyment but motivation to his approach. Honda refused to release him from his contract at the end of 2003, meaning he couldn't test the revised M1 until February, just eight weeks before the 2004 season opener in South Africa.

Part of Yamaha's problem stemmed from chasing a set up that prevented the rear wheel from sliding. Burgess commented the bike wasn't "anywhere near where I thought it should be" when Rossi first tested it in Malaysia.

Another problem was the general malaise that eleven years of failure naturally brings. "At the grand prix level of Yamaha, there was no belief there that they could beat Honda. They just always accepted they couldn't," he told Cycle News.

Yet at Sepang morale was boosted when Japanese engineering guru Masao Furusawa presented the cross plane crankshaft motor that proved smoother and more stable acceleration.

With the new motor aided by a new chassis the times started to fall and the operation gained momentum. Rossi posted sensational times at the official tests before topping every practice session at the opening round in Welkom. His slender win over Max Biaggi in the race would go down in history as one of his finest.

The celebrations were wild and even after nine world championships Burgess couldn't help but feel this ranked amongst his finest achievements. When journalists shoved their microphones in his direction as Rossi was ascending the podium all he could mutter was "Probably the biggest job I've ever done."

But Burgess played down the part he and his team of mechanics had played in the instant reversal of fortunes. "I'm sure Valentino would have been successful with or without me... Perhaps it would have taken half a season to swing Yamaha around from the way they were thinking," he told Cycle News. The fact they managed it during a single pre-season was a minor miracle.

2006, Sachsenring - Burning the midnight oil pays dividends
Although he and Rossi's exertions during their two years at Ducati resulted in limited success it would be foolish to forget Burgess' prowess at reversing the fortunes of an ailing machine.

After all, he had learnt at the altar of Erv Kanemoto in 1984 when Honda introduced the overly ambitious and slightly eccentric NSR, complete with single crankshaft and 'upside down' chassis. The fact Spencer still won grands prix on that model spoke as much of his talent as it did of the personnel surrounding him.

Rossi and Burgess won all before them with Yamaha in '04 and '05 but while engineers focussed on introducing the fully electronic throttle system for 2006 problems with the chassis emerged. The rigidity balance was lost and chronic front-end chatter was the result.

Rossi recorded memorable wins in Qatar and Mugello but none demonstrated the shrewd foresight of Burgess better than Rossi's triumph amidst a four-rider slog at the Sachsenring.

Still recovering from a broken bone in his wrist suffered two rounds prior at Assen, Rossi could only manage eleventh in final qualifying and a third row start. After the race Rossi quipped "I have to say is 'sorry' to my M1 because last night was the first time in our relationship that I ever doubted her!" Something dramatic was needed.

Burgess and his engineers decided if Rossi had the speed though the three left handed bends preceding the 'Waterfall' he could out-brake anyone at the penultimate corner. Their overnight changes reflected this. The M1 may have been slow and clumsy around the Omega curve but Rossi was fast where it mattered and utilised his improved set up in the race.

A frantic battle ensued with Honda riders Marco Melandri, Nicky Hayden and Dani Pedrosa all taking turns at the front.

Although it required Rossi riding at his peak of his powers to execute, Burgess' game plan paid off. The pack of Hondas had no answer for Rossi at the penultimate turn. Moreover, they didn't have sufficient time to re-pass him before the finish line. The size of Rossi's winning margin (0.145s) and gap to fourth placed Pedrosa (0.307s) reflected one of the closest races in history.

One man who attested to Rossi's genius that day was Colin Edwards, sitting on the other side of his garage. The Texan could only manage eleventh in the race and looked baffled upon hearing the result. "I never had the pace. It looked like Valentino was in the same situation but today he pulled out something like his 700th miracle." What he failed to mention was that a certain Australian also played a part.

Laguna Seca, 2008 - Turning the tide with tactical nous
The role of chief mechanic in the garage is wide ranging. It has as much to do with personnel and motivational skills as it does technical knowhow.

Speaking to Cycle News Burgess said leadership and organisation are also essential. "The crux is getting the guys together and motivated, so that during the season they give everything they've got."

Add a strong psychology to that list and you have a fair idea of what a MotoGP technician's CV requires. Burgess was always willing to engage in psychological combat and in Rossi, he had a rider who excelled in this field. "I enjoy that side of racing too. I like it more than just setting up the bike and fixing problems," he told Mike Nicks in 2004.

Having faced the likes of Kenny Roberts, Eddie Lawson, and Wayne Rainey, Burgess knew a threat when he saw one. After starting his title defence in 2008 in subdued fashion, Casey Stoner scored three stirring victories in the space of four weeks to whittle Rossi's title lead down by 30 points.

Again the Yamaha team had to act. And where better to do that than Laguna Seca, the scene of Stoner's most dominant MotoGP weekend in his championship year?

Stoner qualified on pole a full 0.447 seconds clear of the Italian. Rossi commented on Saturday evening, "maybe I need to start 30 seconds earlier!" referring to Stoner's dominance up until that point.

Burgess' message to Rossi that night was simple: "Casey hasn't thought about having to race anyone, he's thought only about winning the race," he told David Emmett of Motomatters some time after.

Rossi's comments on Saturday evening proved a stroke of genius, goading Stoner into a false sense of security. With further modifications in morning warm-up Rossi lined up in the race knowing it was imperative to lead before the field descended the Corkscrew.

And he did. As one of MotoGP's most memorable battles played out Burgess' words once again rang true.