Yamaha’s Jeremy Burgess admitted he felt “blindsided” by Valentino Rossi’s decision to end their partnership after fourteen years together. Rossi made the announcement yesterday on the eve of the season finale at Valencia, bringing to an end a relationship that has produced 80 victories and seven premier class titles.
Speaking in Thursday’s pre-event press conference, Rossi told of his sadness to be splitting with “father in racing” but feels he needs a change as he prepares to ride for his future in 2014.
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. 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. In my head there is the idea of trying something new now. I’ve always done that in my career. Next year I have to earn a renewal with Yamaha, so I’ll have to be competitive. I still do not know who will be the new chief mechanic.”
The pair sat side-by-side in an uncomfortable press conference after practice today and Burgess does not believed his alleged comments that Rossi may not win another race are the reason for his departure.
“Look, it clearly it blindsided me. I was not expecting it whatsoever. I knew yesterday afternoon when Valentino invited me into his trailer that we weren’t going in there for the Christmas bonus. For me perhaps the words of ‘Won’t win again’… clearly I said ‘We won’t win again until we start winning races and getting on the podium.’ That was the entirety of that statement and I don’t believe I would be paying for that.”
“I haven’t made any plans for the future at this stage. My intention originally, obviously, was continue next year dependent on results and desire. Our contracts are year by year, so we are at that liberty to make a call. We have been chasing rainbows for four years; we haven’t nailed anything decent in those four years, so these are long periods in racing and it becomes more and more difficult. We have always worked on fixing the problems and have done that for four years. This is part of that fix – this is the next step to try and get Valentino back on top, extend his career and be competitive.”
Rossi is yet to announce the identity of his new crew chief but it is unlikely for a replacement to be in position before the post-season test at Valencia next week.