Jerry Burgess stunned to be dropped by Valentino Rossi

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Valentino Rossi’s legendary Australian crew chief Jerry Burgess has spoken of his shock and surprise at being dropped by the Italian star for the 2014 MotoGP world championship.

Nine-times world champion Rossi dropped a bombshell in the Valencia paddock yesterday (Thursday) when he informed Burgess that he would be replacing him immediately after this weekend’s final race in Spain.

The pair have been together since 2000 and won an incredible 80 MotoGP races and seven world titles.

In a somewhat awkward press conference in Yamaha’s hospitality unit at the Ricardo Tormo track in Spain, Burgess and Rossi sat next to each in front of the world’s media to talk about yesterday’s shock events.

News of Rossi’s decision to axe Burgess leaked in the Italian media on Wednesday, but it wasn’t until yesterday’s summit that Burgess learned the rumours were true.

The 60-year-old, who also won MotoGP world titles with Mick Doohan and Wayne Gardner, said: “Clearly it blind-sided me and I was not expecting it whatsoever. I knew yesterday afternoon that when Valentino invited me into his trailer that we weren’t going in there for the Christmas bonus.”

Asked it had been a massive kick in the teeth to find out he was being replaced by Rossi, Burgess said: “Obviously I am disappointed but I can understand that some sort of change was necessary.

"History will prove the outcome of this adjustment but the main thing is the adjustment is to try and improve the overall package for Valentino. If this is what does it then it has been a success. I am comfortable with everything and I have got a pretty good set up around me at home.”

Burgess said he had not yet decided what his next career move would be, but most anticipate he will announce his retirement and return to Adelaide.

Burgess, who was watched speaking by the entire rest of his loyal and trusted crew that includes Alex Briggs, added: “I haven’t made any plans for the future at this stage.

"My intention originally was to continue next year. We have been four years chasing rainbows and we haven’t nailed anything decent in four years and these are long periods in racing and it becomes more and more difficult.

"I have read many sports biographies and quite often in many cases a top sportsman in the latter part of their career has a change of coach and this is what we are working on now.

"We have worked for four years trying to fix problems and this is part of that fix and part of the next step to get Valentino back on top, extend his career and be competitive.”

Burgess also denied recent comments he made about Rossi’s potential to win a 10th world title had played a significant role in the 34-year-old’s decision.

Burgess was quoted as saying it would take a miracle for Rossi to defeat the likes of dominant Spanish duo Marc Marquez and Jorge Lorenzo but he said: “I said clearly we won’t win the championship again until we start winning races and being on the podium and that was the entirety of that statement. I don’t believe that I am paying for that. We all know in racing you have to win races before you win the championship.”

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Matthew Birt

By Matthew Birt