Here’s another lesser-known puzzle. At the end of 2013, Rossi unceremoniously dumped his long-serving crew chief and right-hand man Jerry Burgess, who (along with his crew) had been with him at Honda, Yamaha, Ducati and back to Yamaha, for all seven premier-class championships. Rossi looked heartless, but there’s an unexpected but not implausible alternative explanation.
Mid-2011, Burgess’s wife Claudine had been diagnosed with breast cancer. She made a good recovery, but at the same time (rumour has it) there was a need for Burgess to be home in Australia with his family.
Had he resigned, he would have sacrificed his substantial 2014 contract fee. By dumping him, Rossi ensured he would be paid anyway. So was it an act of mercy rather than ruthlessness? Burgess denied it, when I taxed him with it. But then he would, wouldn’t he …
All part of the intriguing parcel of Rossiness that gives him the authority to dangle Yamaha on a string. Will he retire at the end of this year? Or will he carry on for ever?
Your guess is as good as mine. But one thing is certain. As always, he is dancing to a different drum.
Images courtesy of Motorsport Images.