Ever since it was confirmed that Valentino Rossi would be heading to Ducati for the 2011 & 2012 seasons, speculation began to swell about whether famed Crew Chief Jeremy Burgess would join the Italian rider at his new squad. The man behind Wayne Gardner, Mick Doohan, and of course Rossi, Burgess’ talents in the pit box are confirmed by the number of race victories and series championships he’s been a part of in GP racing. With many believing Rossi could not be successful on the Ducati without Burgess by his side, the Australian crew chief’s decision to follow Rossi to Ducati is an integral piece to the team’s success in the coming years, especially as Ducati prepares a new 1000cc machine for the rule changes scheduled in 2012.
With speculation rife that Burgess might stay at Yamaha (presumably to help Rookie of the Year Ben Spies), or even retire at the end of this season (Rossi said at Laguna Seca he wasn’t sure if Burgess would continue after this season), Burgess’ move to Ducati was anything but a sure thing. However this weekend at his home venue of Phillip Island and during the Australian GP, Burgess officially announced his intention to SportRider magazine that he would be following Rossi to Ducati, and continuing the pair’s successful history together.
Perhaps the biggest reason Burgess made the move to follow Rossi to Ducati comes down to the pair’s similar timetables for their careers. It’s not a huge secret that Valentino Rossi will ride only three or so more seasons (the Italian saying so himself), and Burgess has obviously been considering the idea of retiring as well. Had he stayed in Yamaha, Burgess would have begun anew with Ben Spies, who conceivably could have a decade of riding still ahead of him, assuming that he rides well and stays healthy. That timeframe is clearly too protracted for Burgess, and the idea of changing horses mid-stream like wasn’t appealing to the dedicated worker.
With the Ducati Desmosedici called a career-ender by more than a few riders, Burgess and Rossi could have their work cut-out for them. But this season has shown the GP10 to be a different beast than its predecessors. While Casey Stoner has struggled where he once was the only man to succede, soon-to-be teammate Nicky Hayden has found consistent results all season long with the GP10. The baseline point for Burgess and his crew is clearly higher than when they started with the YZR-M1 back in 2004, and the Australian believes his crew’s challenges will not be insurmountable in their new team.
Burgess will bring with him the rest of Rossi’s crew and mechanics, along with Brent Stephens and Matteo Flamigni, who were at Yamaha Racing before Valentino Rossi arrived in 2004. Asked about whether Rossi needed to test the Ducati GP11 at Valencia, Burgess replied “I don’t think it makes a scrap of difference.” If you want to know the reasoning behind that, head-on over to Sport Rider and read the rest of Burgess’ comments about Yamaha, Ducati, Rossi, and the GP10. It’s clear from Burgess’ words that the Australian has a very insightful perspective on the going-on’s in MotoGP.