If the news that Valentino Rossi was going to switch to Ducati for the 2011 MotoGP season was the worst-kept secret in the paddock, the fate of Jerry Burgess and the rest of Rossi's pit crew was probably the best-kept secret. Although it was widely expected that Burgess would follow Rossi to Ducati, all questions on the subject put to the Australian and the rest of the crew were met with a positively sphinx-like silence. Even hardened paddock veterans couldn't get a straight answer out of Burgess, Briggs, Ansiau, Stephens or any of the other members of Rossi's entourage.
Until now, that is. In a forthright interview with veteran US journalist Henny Ray Abrams over on the website of Sport Rider magazine, Burgess finally comes clean about his intention to move to Ducati along with Rossi. His reasoning was simple: the timeframe for Rossi's career fits in perfectly with Burgess' own plans. Rossi, currently 31, is likely to race in MotoGP for another 3 to 4 years, before moving off to race elsewhere, most probably in the World Rally Championship. Burgess is currently 57, and Rossi's retirement from the sport would come at about the time that Burgess himself would be looking at retiring.
That decision was not as simple to make for the other members of Rossi's crew, Burgess revealed to Sport Rider. The other members of the crew are much younger, and will have a career beyond Rossi's retirement. Burgess pointed out to them that this might not necessarily be the best move for the rest of their careers, but they have all decided to make the switch anyway. Whatever the outcome, Burgess added, they were all "the best in their field" and would easily find employment elsewhere, should it be necessary in the future.
As for how competitive Rossi would be on the Ducati, Burgess was confident that he and Rossi would soon get the bike up to speed. It was clear that the bike was already competitive, Burgess told Abrams, and the issues he saw could be solved relatively easily. "If we had that issue with Valentino it'd be fixed in 80 seconds," Burgess said.
Burgess also commented that testing at Valencia was not such a big issue. Burgess pointed out that Rossi is still suffering with a shoulder injury, distorting the data from the test. He also pointed to the possibility of rain disrupting the test, also making the test more or less irrelevant. Asked by Abrams whether it would have mattered if Rossi had missed the test at Valencia, either as a result of surgery or because of a veto by Yamaha, Burgess was devastatingly honest: "I don't think it makes a scrap of difference," he told Abrams.