“It is true that next year Jerry won’t be my chief mechanic,” Rossi told the press conference. The decision had not been taken lightly, he said. “It was a very difficult decision for me because I have a great history with Jeremy. He is not just my chief mechanic. He is like part of my family. My father in racing.”

Rossi felt he had been forced to make a decision to try to make a change, to regain his competitiveness. “I’ve decided for next year I need to change something to try to find new motivation and to have a boost to improve my level, my speed. So this will be my last race together with Jeremy.”

Rossi had made the decision five days ago, he told reporters, but had waited until Valencia to tell Burgess, once he could tell him himself. “We spoke today, face to face. Next year will be crucial and I need new motivation. In the last few races I’ve felt I wanted to work in a different way. It was a difficult choice to make. Yamaha had asked me some time ago, but I decided recently.”

No decision had yet been made about a replacement, and it was unclear whether Burgess would be present at the test.

News that Rossi was seeking to have Burgess replaced first emerged from Tavullia, and was reported on the PU24 website, which reports on news around the Tavullia region. That report cited Rossi’s dissatisfaction with a lack of results since his return to Yamaha, and anger at comments Burgess had made in which he questioned whether Rossi had lost his edge with age.

At Valencia, Rossi denied any such reports: “I know this only yesterday from the newspaper, but no, it’s not for that,” he told Tammy Gorali, MotoGP commentator for the Israeli Sport 5 channel.

The decision had been extremely hard. “For me is a very difficult decision, in fact I need a lot of time, but was for sure very not happy, but he said he could understand. But sincerely I don’t  know if he will do something next year or stay at home.” Burgess had taken the news calmly, Rossi said, but he was also clearly upset by the news.

Asked how Burgess had responded, Rossi replied “Very quiet. I wanted to say to him directly, because anyway I take the decision five days ago. But we spoke together alone, and I tried to explain that I need something different for next year, something new, some new boost, some new motivation, and he said he’s very sorry, because he want to continue, but he understand. But very quiet.”

It had been important to tell Burgess face-to-face, Rossi said, and it had been a very sad moment for him as well. “It’s a sad day for me, very much. But very good that we speak anyway directly together, man-to-man, face-to-face.”

Rossi had not been considering the decision for very long, however. Some months ago, he said, Yamaha had asked him what his intentions were for 2014, and Rossi had told them at the time that he wanted to continue.

However, as results failed to improve much, Rossi had started to have doubts, and felt he needed to make a change before making a decision on his own future in racing. “For me next year is very important, to try to make a bit better in the tests and the first half of the season, because I have to decide whether to continue or not,” Rossi said.

Rossi hoped that the remainder of his tight-knit crew would remain, but he said he would understand if some felt they would prefer to leave. “We have to speak, I don’t know if somebody want to change job because Jerry is not with me, or go in some other part, but I am happy if all the crew remain.”

Rossi had first consulted Yamaha about the decision, before telling Burgess himself. Lin Jarvis, Managing Director of Yamaha Motor Racing, told Tammy Gorali “We discussed together, but basically Vale decided after much consideration, and then he shared it with the team management if we could accept his decision, and we said, OK, the relation between rider and crew chief is essential, is crucial, is most important, so if the rider decides he wants to change, you must listen to the rider.”

Jarvis told Gorali he would also be sad to see Burgess leave. “I’ve known him for 10 years, closely. Jeremy’s a good friend, I hope he will always remain a good friend, and I think he’s a respected guy in the paddock and he’s done a great deal for Vale and also for Yamaha, so I regret to see Jeremy not take that position any more. And I hope we will retain our friendship into the future.”

There had not been a decision on who would replace Burgess, but Jarvis admitted he was already talking to a few people, although he declined to name any names.

Rossi’s decision to drop Burgess appears to be a prelude to a decision on his own future in racing. Earlier this year, Rossi had said that he intended to sign up for another couple of years after the 2014, with an eye to retiring at the end of 2016. But as results have failed to come, Rossi must first determine whether the problem lies with him, or if it was down to the way the crew have worked.

Burgess has enjoyed great success in the premier class, winning titles with Rossi, Mick Doohan and Wayne Gardner as crew chief, and having worked with Erv Kanemoto when he was crew chief to Freddie Spencer. But Burgess is over 60, and after his wife fell ill last year, there were some thoughts he could retire when Rossi left Ducati. If Rossi is to continue racing, there are no guarantees that Burgess will not retire early.

If Rossi has doubts about Burgess, then now is the time to replace him. It is also the one major factor in the bike equation which will allow Rossi to tell if he is still capable of running with the front runners, or whether he is past his prime himself. If a change of crew chief brings Rossi success, then he knows that he can continue racing.

If Rossi continues to circulate in the same position as this year, then he knows that the problem was not with the crew chief, but with himself. Burgess was the only variable Rossi had at his control, and switching Burgess out was his best bet of judging his own level again.

Yet there is also good reason to believe that the issue lies with Rossi himself. At 34 years of age, Rossi is past his peak and may just be losing his first touch of speed. That touch is the difference between winning races and missing out on podiums, a prospect Rossi clearly does not relish. If Rossi cannot be more competitive next year, then the chances of him deciding to call it a day seem very large.

Although Rossi has worked with Burgess for 14 years, it is not unusual to make a change. As in all professional sports, when the results don’t come, something has to change, in search of new success. Loyalty only stretches so far in any sporting environment, and results are the only thing that count. Neither Burgess nor Rossi enjoy not being able to win, but only Rossi has the power to make a change.

A press conference by Yamaha, with Rossi and Burgess is underway at the time of this posting. More information from that as we get it.

Photo: © 2013 Scott Jones / Scott Jones Photography – All Rights Reserved

This article was originally published on MotoMatters, and is republished here on Asphalt & Rubber with permission by the author.

  • keet

    yeah, right, Burgess is the problem…

    Sounds like Rossi’s ego is getting out of hand, its everyones fault but his own. F him, i hope he never wins another race, let alone another championship.

  • Leo

    Whatever Brutus… What’s UR next excuse??

  • G.Irish

    “My father in racing,” is an unfortunate analogy. “Hey dad, I love you but I want a new dad because you’re not making me as successful as I want to be. No hard feelings former dad.”

  • Silas

    It can’t be the bike because that was last year’s excuse, plus Jorge seems to be fine on it. For sure not the leathers or helmet as they have yellow in them. The beard? Certainly not, he is only there for ‘personal’ reasons. So, what’s left?

  • John D’Orazio

    This is a thoughtful and logical evaluation of the situation. Rossi wants to run at the front but can’t. Is it him or bike set up issues? As alluded to in this article, Rossi will have his answer shortly, then he can better decide his own future. Makes sense to me.

  • Gutterslob

    Oh wow. I initially thought this was because Burgess wanted to retire. Guess not.

  • TexusTim

    “hey dad pass the potato chips”…”hey son F___k you”

  • Westward

    +1 D’Orazio

    I think we are the only two that actually read the article.

    As the tyres wear, Rossi seems to be on pace with Lorenzo, Marquez and Pedrosa, if only he were there during the beginning than the story would be different. Rossi has won nearly ever battle the bike has put him in. If the bike were able to keep him near the front, it is logical to think he can battle for the win and be victorious more often.

  • Joe

    I get the impression most didn’t read the complete article. It sounds like this is the last straw for VR on whether he continues to race or retires, not because he is blaming Burgess on his lack of success. It’s seeking a different approach to coax some success from a rider in the pointy end of his career.

  • TexusTim

    I read it, did you watch the interview ? anyway I guess he cant complain about this weekends setup…”HEY DAD IT’S PUSING IN THE CORNER” ……”HEY SON ADJUST IT YOURSELF”

  • PD

    So many simpletons, ignorami (“…mi” sounds much better than the correct “…muses”) that inhabit the world of motorsports (and sports, in general). Muscle-brained, with huge pockets of empty, unused, steaming spaces in said noggin. Read an article like this, and can only reach the lowest, the simplest, the crudest of conclusions.

    That picture, BTW, would be touching if it were Rossi that Burgess is hugging. But it’s not. Rossi is standing to Burgess’ left, in the Dainese leathers with the polished titanium plate on the shoulders. So, why this pic?

  • Kev71

    Hope the decision is the right one, I’d love to see Rossi fighting for podiums and wins instead of 4th place finishes. I can’t see anyone else being able to hang with Marquez, Pedrosa or Lorenzo so having Rossi in the hunt would make for even better racing. He has shown flashes of his old self but not consistently and even less against the top 3 riders. If he doesn’t improve next year he’ll retire. This is not the move of a “selfish” rider but one who still feels he can compete with the best in the world. Obviously Rossi and Burgess have different ideas as to what the problems are and how to fix them. We’ll soon find out who is correct.

  • ZootCadiilac

    I’ve seen a lot of confusion in comments over the web about this decision. At the end of the day Burgess is a salaried employee of Yamaha. However you dress this he’s been sacked. Terminated, let go. Whatever makes it easier to swallow. Yamaha, it would seem, made it clear to Rossi in the summer that this change would have to happen and left it to Rossi to pull the plug at his convenience.

    There probably could be a change mid-season but it’s unlikely that things would change and that would have been an immense slap in the face for Burgess so i guess leaving it to the end of the season was sensible. We would likely not have heard this news until next week were it not for the Italian press leak, but then Rossi’s camp has always been like a sieve when it comes to withholding info from the Italian journalists. Always.
    Perhaps Rossi didn’t want to make the change, who can tell but him? But it’s clear that he knew that there was no avoiding it. Ultimately it’s a damn shame because the only change that will work in Yamaha’s favour is a change of rider. Rossi just refuses to see it yet.

    He does not have it any more. That is not to say that what he does have is not better than almost any other rider on the planet, however for a man like Rossi, almost is not good enough.

    The decline, in my eyes was already starting to show in 2010 and even without the Ducati experience I doubt things would be any different today. It’s gone on too long already. I hope, for the sake of his legacy that next year is his last and that Dorna don’t talk him into one last hurrah that inevitably ends up like the great prizefighter, out on the floor in a daze as the fans watch on in silence. Stunned, and saddened.

  • Jw

    I fully agree with Rossi, change is good and necessary for him right now in his career. The is no job security in motogp. They had a good run.

  • Rob

    While there’s probably a lot of underlying untold issues between the two, I think it boils down to one main issue. Rossi is just being realistic about his situation. He has no chance of being more competitive next year if he continues on the same path he’s been on for 2013. There’s nothing new this group is going to change for him that will get him to ride faster. He needs a fresh outlook and a new set of eyes looking at the problems.

    He can’t change the rider, so he’s changing the only thing left that he can, his Crew Chief. He may find that his biggest asset was Jerry if he gets even worse results next year. But there is no purpose in continuing on the same path of mediocrity. At least he will know he tried everything and can leave the sport with no regrets.

  • PD

    The previous two consecutive comments amply demonstrate my point. One made by a mongoloid that has barely crawled out of some primordial swamp, knowing nothing but thinking he knows all; the other by a mind open to reason, one who is cautious of jumping to premature conclusions.

    Sadly, there is a profusion of the former, a dearth of the latter.

  • Rob

    In professional sports, in business, sometimes change and renovation is needed. What worked in the past doesn’t necessarily works today. Circumstances change and so do people. Who stands still goes actually backwards. So Burgess replacement is quite understandable. Vale definitely needs fresh ideas and fresh know-how to try to be competitive again. You can stil love your “dad” even if you don’t work with him anymore…

  • Phil

    He’s turned into a prize ass clown if he thinks sacking JB is the answer. Its him that’s on the bike.
    I’ll be everything I own he doesn’t improve next year.

  • Norm G.

    re: “At 34 years of age, Rossi is…”

    …a Worl’ Champeen struggling with machine issues no different than the years he was 27 and 28 and lost to Hayden and Stoner.

    NATCORK. if you haven’t already, one should get a pen a write this acronym down. ’cause you WILL hear it again. “i guarantee”. (Justin Wilson voice)

  • smiler

    Keet, what a prat you are. No one in the last 30 years of any motorsport has been as successful and for MotoGP as profitable. It is because of Rossi, people like Simnoncelli, Merguez and Lorenzo are there and you watch it.
    To say it is because of his ego is just an infantile comment.
    He has purchased a moto3 team. It is logical to see if he can remain competitive. So as the articel says, Rossi can control whjo looks at his bike. In so doing he cane see if he can squeeze another few wins out. If not then sorry for you Keet, it is not as if Rossi is going to go away. He will likely within a few years be back in motogp with a team.

  • JW

    @ PD

    Kindly look at these posts, is there a correction you should make?

  • I think that once Rossi has changed everything besides himself, and is still getting beaten by the kids, he will be forced to admit that he’s over the hill and retire.
    His star did burn so very brightly…

  • paulus

    There is too much money being made having Rossi involved in the sport.
    Nobody wants to lose that. All possible actions will be made to extend Rossi’s riding career.
    Even if he is not competitive… just being involved generates cash for him, Yamaha and Dorna

  • mak lampir

    i think, at the moment and for next year, Rossi should realize that he is getting older, and the lust for grabbing the title of world champions, get win again are getting far away from him..

    easy to say, that he’s old and hard to fight with other younger rider like marq, jorge.

    i hope Rossi also realize that jeremy burgess is a “Monster”, its not jeremy fault when Rossi cant’ get the podium, but it;s about Rossi ability himself to be competitive with others.

    sorry Rossi, its that YOU who should retire, not Burgess…Jensen, please tell Rossi this..

    after this, i’ll not your fans anymore, Rossi, its very disappointing what you did to Burgess,

  • jake end

    The human body gets better in 6 year terms , then plateaus at roughly 28, starts to slowly decrease in performance until 35. The real Kick in the crotch is the steep downward spiral from 36 years old until 42 years old . Yes , your body still decreases in performance from then on . But not as harshly /quickly .

    The bodies reflexes are the first to then Timing and finally endurance .
    In Boxing they call it .. the alarm clock … Between the ages of 36 -42 a fighter can still have good enough reflexes and timing to remain a champion but I have seen 35-36 year old fighters ….time clock ring …and go from quick/sharp to SHOT in 2 months time .

    BTW Motorcycle racing and Boxing have a lot in common as far as reflexes/timing how age effects the rider/boxers performance .