The ruthless decision by Valentino Rossi to cut adrift his legendary Australian crew chief Jeremy Burgess continues to dominate the paddock in Valencia in the build-up to Sunday’s title deciding race.
Rossi and Burgess attended a hastily convened press conference in the Yamaha hospitality on Friday to further explain the spilt after winning seven world titles and 80 races together.
Burgess admitted his shock and said he was “blindsided” by the decision with Rossi confirming that he had triggered the departure of Burgess who was only told on Thursday.
Rossi and Yamaha management had discussed the matter and decided on the change in the days following last week’s Japanese GP at Motegi.
“It was more my decision because we already spoke with Jerry about next year and he said he wanted to stay,” Rossi said.
“He had some more question marks for the future but he didn’t say yes or no but said he wanted to wait for next year. Sincerely I want to wait for next year also, even if in my mind I want to continue and I will decide after the first races. It was more my decision and we spoke together and tried to explain to change and do something different to get a new boost. In my mind I took the decision last week and I didn’t want to stay one weekend working with Jerry knowing that I had decided this. I can’t do this and I think it was better to do it the first time I saw him.”
Rossi and Yamaha were caught short when the spilt was leaked to the Italian press before Burgess was formally advised. Rossi, who will be 35 next February, has intentions of racing on in 2015 after his current Yamaha deal expires subject to results and the “new motivation” he says he is searching for.
Having won just one race this year, and struggling to match the pace of Yamaha teammate Jorge Lorenzo on the same bike and Honda star Marc Marquez.
When asked if what he was missing was more because of Burgess or himself.
Rossi said: “I don’t know. For me I want to say maybe both. But now the level has been raised a lot by the top three and they are able to ride these bikes very fast. The lap time in each track improves a lot and it is a great challenge for me and I know it is difficult.
“But I don’t have any particular issue, regrets or problem with the way to work of my team and especially of Jeremy. But I know that it is a key moment because I have in my mind that I want to try one time in another way and I think this is the moment.”
Rossi says he has two or three people in mind as replacement crew chief but is not in a hurry to confirm the choice.
Burgess and Rossi have long been surrounded by a tight-knit crew many of whom have followed Rossi’s moves from Honda to Yamaha and then Ducati and back to Yamaha.
Rossi says he is happy for the rest of his crew to stay if they so wish but unknown is whether Rossi’s incoming crew chief will want to hand pick his own mechanics.
“I have to speak with the rest of the guys but I am happy with all the team, so if all the other guys decide to continue with me then nothing changes,” Rossi said.
But I don’t know if somebody decides to make something else because Jerry is not with us.”