Team Musical Chairs: Rossi's' Crew Go To Ducati, Spies' WSBK Team Reunited

If Valentino Rossi's move to Ducati was one of the worst-kept secrets in the MotoGP paddock, whether Rossi's crew chief Jeremy Burgess would follow him is undoubtedly the best-kept secret. Burgess, together with entire Australian crew that has surrounded Rossi since he entered the premier class in 2000, has maintained a sphinx-like silence about the question, handily dodging the question whenever it was put to them.

For a long time, this was not a pose. While Rossi had decided to switch to Ducati as early as mid-June, Burgess was still completely undecided at Brno two months later. Such was Burgess and crew's indecision that Yamaha gave them a deadline, to allow the team to start making plans to replace them should they decide to leave. That deadline came and went at Misano, but still no word seeped out from Burgess and crew about whether they were off to Ducati along with their rider.

Even at the 13th round of the year at Aragon, individual members of Rossi's crew avoided answering any inquiries about their future. But while the Australian side of the garage remained silent on the matter, the rest of the Yamaha team felt no such obligation. Yamaha boss Lin Jarvis told MCN's Matthew Birt that Burgess and crew would be following Rossi to Ducati, which Birt promptly posted on his Twitter page.

Inquiries with other members of the Yamaha organization confirmed the news: various sources inside Yamaha confirmed that Rossi's entire crew would be heading off to Ducati along with the Italian rider, leaving a virtually empty garage behind.

With Ben Spies moving into that garage at the end of the year, that garage will be filled by people that the Texan will be bringing along with him. Spies' crew chief Tom Houseworth will be joining Spies at the factory Yamaha team for 2011, along with his mechanic Gregg Wood. Houseworth will be sharing the role of crew chief with another, more experienced MotoGP hand, though Yamaha have not yet confirmed who that will be.

Spies brought Houseworth and Wood with him to MotoGP from World Superbikes, and more of his former WSBK crew are likely to follow. Current WSBK team manager Massimo Meregalli will be moving into the MotoGP team to manage Spies' side of the factory Yamaha garage, where he will also be reunited with his former colleague Wilco Zeelenberg, currently fulfilling the same role for Jorge Lorenzo. Other members of the team could also follow Meregalli into MotoGP.

The departure of Burgess and co. to Ducati, along with their rider, is part of a growing trend in MotoGP, one they started themselves back in 2004 when Rossi left Honda to join Yamaha. Increasingly, riders take their own engineering staff with them when the switch from team to team, along with an ever-growing entourage. As the bikes become more complex, the importance of communication between rider and crew grows also, and being able to understand and interpret rider feedback is now such an essential part of setting up a racing motorcycle that even the smallest of misunderstandings between rider and crew chief can make it difficult to compete.

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.... JB and VR can make the GP11 a race winner every weekend out.

I would love to see Vale win first race out, just like South Africa 04.

Good luck to them all.

That is good news on Burgess - I have been hoping that things would go this way, and figured that he would either follow or retire. But I am glad to see it in print!


Houseworth will be sharing the role of crew chief with another, more experienced MotoGP hand, though Yamaha have not yet confirmed who that will be.

does this leave room for Jerry at Yamaha, or does "the entire crew" include him.
Im not reading he is definitely gone to Ducati yet.
the 'twit' just says pretty much everyone.

Totally agree with you...Until I hear the words from J.B's mouth then i will believe he is heading over there...I am always hearing how Ducati like to do everything in house so we will see...Nothing in that article told me he was definately going...

The Rossi-Ducati love fest will be little more than that. Lorenzo, Stoner, Pedrosa, and Spies will not get any slower next year. Vale's shoulder will never be 100% again. He will not dominate on the duck. Don't get me wrong here. I like Rossi and wish him well. I hope he does win again. It would be good for him and the sport. I just think his best days are behind him. I don't see him winning more than five additional races in his career and no more championships.

I definately agree with you that the original aliens will be fast next year including Spies. Spies has the motivation of riding on a factory ( hopefully ) title winning machine, Jorge trying to( hopefully ) back up his title, Stoner proving he hasnt lost his touch and Dani on form now hoping to carry this momentom into next year and still prove to be Hondas number 1 rider.
BUT i disagree with you about Rossi. As we all know he is a talent and also importantly he has alot of experience and so does his team. To say Rossi will either only win 5 additional races in his career and no more championships seems pretty bold considering that in 2012 motogp is moving to a new formula and look what happened to Casey's career in 2007! I believe Rossi still has alot left in the tank and this new adventure can certainly motivate Rossi to win another or more championships.
I am excited just talking about it :)

Rossi will only be 32 next year - hardly the twilight of his career. Right now Rossi should be in his prime if guys like Agostini, Rainey and Doohan are anyone to go by. That said, there is no reason to believe that Rossi won't be up there, he has the best guys around him with all the money and support he can get. I'd be shocked if he doesn't win at least five more races in his career.

Hey LP25, Yes it was a bold statement and sure not to be a favorite with Vale's hardest of core fans, but I bet I am not alone in this mindset. His age is another factor. However, if there was ever anyone that can set up a bike, it's Valentino. And looking at the speed of Stoners bike and Pedrosa's going down the straight last weekend, it would appear that setup is really all Vale will have to concern himself with next year. If his shoulder does in fact return to 100%, he could very well make my opinion laughable. We'll see. I've read up on the type of shoulder problem he has and often times it just never gets back to where it needs to be. Remember, we're talking about tenths of a second here and there. These guys at this level cannot afford any handicaps. But then again, this is Rossi, not just some average guy. Next year will be much more entertaining than this one, I believe. Dan

and what I saw on Sunday was a great show .... and one where Rossi did not really play a part. I too admire Rossi enormously, but I was so relieved to see something worth watching that did not include him. I hope he does well at Ducati, and with JB and the rest of the crew this is surely on the cards, but after Sundays race I am less worried about what happens if he doesn't.

Agree entirely. For too long, MOTOGP relies entirely on Rossi to provide the entertainment. Last Sundays race showed that other riders can provide good racing as well. Rossi cannot go on forever, and , MOTOGP needs to have riders there to step up onto the plate to ensure that the show will go on.

No more than 5 races and no more championships? Really? That is a bold statement. Its amazing how people are. To be able to do what he has done... win more championships than anyone currently on the grid, make winning bikes out of losers, and all it takes is one broken leg and a bad shoulder and people are already writing him off? Considering he is still considered the GOAT amongst many, it's really premature to do so, no? I'm sure if you were to ask the guys that has to race against him, you wouldn't find anyone that would agree with your "predictions".


It's only normal that people should question whether or not Rossi is finished b/c racers have a tendency to go suddenly. One day they are on the pace, the next day they are off the pace. Once the self-belief and the will to win are broken the rider can't compete any longer. Furthermore, on a long enough time table, every rider will be injured enough times to incapacitate themselves. Even the GOAT has been bitten by probability.

Rossi has exhibited all the symptoms of being done. He was on the pace early in the season, now nagging injuries, an underdeveloped bike, and lack of motivation are starting to eat away at him. No doubt he will make another big push to stay relevant and regain his lost title, but it's hard to say whether or not he will be successful in 2011. The bike is reason enough to doubt the future.

"The bike is reason enough to doubt the future."

You mean the bike that won convincingly on Sunday at Aragon? Or are you talking about a different bike? : )

Whenever a racer has a run of trouble, the punters straight away start writing his career off. Even Rossi is not immune to this, as shown in this blog... same thing with Stoner last year, and before that Lorenzo after his disastrous series of crashes.

Rossi will win convincingly for a few years yet, he just won't win like he did when he had the very best bike, crew and tyres in the paddock.

I reckon he will still take Ago's last record, for most GP wins ever.

Aragon is just one race. Should the problems suffered by Stoner with the GP10 front-end be understimated? As far as I understand, the 2011 Ducati will be a minor evolution of the GP10. Maybe the minor evolution will solve just the front-end problems and/or Rossi will fall in love with his new Desmosedici lady but looking at the Ducati record, not many pilots -read just one- managed to be very confortable with a Ducati GP right away. On the top of that, we should not forget the lacking of testing opportunities.

If Valentino will be fit again I have no dubts he will have strong motivations and the great opportunity to contribute to the development of the new GP12. That bike will be cut on him, built for his style and his talent, not the GP11. While I really hope he will win both the 2011 and 2012 titles, I will not be surprised by just a decent 2011.

I don't remember the punters writing him off in 2006 or 2007. I remember a rabid group of punters blaming Michelin and Yamaha for all of Rossi's woes.

This is the first time a sizable group of people have expressed doubt about Rossi's return to dominance.

Perhaps your memory is short? it was mainly his fans that were talking about michelin being rubbish or yamaha being fragile.

Other people were crying that Vales days were over, the new young crowd were going to be winning, it was time for him to retire. He was gone, finished.

He showed over the next two years.

This year has been different to his other years. its the compounding injuries that have limited him. Impingement, fractured leg, yada yada.

If the surgery goes well, it will be an interesting year.

If not, it may be a depressing time for his fans.

+1 dannyboy
The GOAT is the GOAT but if you are not blinded by bias, his best years just might be behind him. The favorite for next year has to be Pedrosa,, THE only returning combination dominant bike and Alien. Lorenzo might be the better Spaniard, but that "long mileage" Yamaha is no match for the Honda on any track with a straight line (re-watch Aragon for proof). Jorge is in trouble next year without an engine break-through at big-Blue. Stoner and Rossi will be on new (first time for them) machines,, advantage Stoner. VR will be coming off of surgery,, he is 31,, and the Duc won't be HIS Duc. Will he fight for Podiums,, hell yes.. But Dani and Stoner (if they don't take each other out) will be splitting the wins next year. IMO of course,,,

I find it hard to believe that it's because of his age and/or his shoulder. He's remarkably un-beatup for the number years he's been racing. Besides this year and his rookie 500 season, I don't remember him crashing on a frequent basis. I'd wager that Casey has crashed more in his career than Vale has.

Regarding his shoulder, advances in surgical techniques and physical therapy should get him back to 80%+. While that's not good enough for him to pitch in the majors, it's surely good enough for him to hang on to a set of handlebars. :)

I don't think he's physically past his prime but he has struggled for motivation. To stay motivated after 9 Championships over 13 years is something that few can understand. Jordan, Federer and Schumacher can probably understand but anyone else is just guessing.

I will not be surprised if he wins 4 more titles before hanging it up. But he could just as easily struggle a bit on the Ducati and decide it's not for him anymore.

But he'll never have seasons like 2008 or 2005 again. The competition is unbelievably high and the bikes are all extremely developped, plus there isn't a tyre war.

Anyhow, people seem to forget to 800cc will soon become collectors and musems items. There is no telling who will jump ahead when the 1000cc bikes return and Rossi's experience (plus that of his crew) might be much more valuable than we anticipate. That gang was by far the most competent garage of the 990cc years.

As far as I can tell, motivation isn't an issue for him yet.

I would never write Rossi off..The talk is that there is so much money being thrown at Ducati at the moment by Italian companies to get Rossi the best equipment he can possibly have..Remember Italian on an Italian motorcycle..If anything will get Vale pumped again it will be to win on that bike..I don't think he is finished i think he just needs to get his leg and shoulder right and look out..He will come back like a hurricane..He has a point to prove to Lorenzo too..I can't wait until next season..It's going to be a humdinger...

Wayne Rainey last was competivite at 32.
Mick Doohan 33.
Kenny Roberts 33.
Freddie Spencer 25
Barry Sheene 34
Agostini 35

From Julian Ryder on SOUP -
None of the Aussie/Kiwi/Belgian/Italian crew have said anything to anyone. All Jerry Burgess will tell me is that he considers racing at Valencia in one color scheme then turning up the next day to test in another to be an useless pantomime. That's not the vocabulary he used, but you get the idea. Jerry has of course talked with Ducati and, he says, another team that wanted to have a word. His rider has asked Jerry to tell him when the decision is made—which is exactly what will happen.

Rossi has proven he can win on anything, but this is a new era. Not just 800cc. A new style of riding. Rossi is older and maybe less adaptable than before. I am not saying he won't or can't but it will be more difficult. Especially on the Ducati which seems to need to be ridden more aggressive than anything this side of a 500.

Also, much of Rossi's swagger is missing. Probably not down to just one thing in his world at present. Hope he gets it back soon.

Someone should ask Troy Bayliss if he thinks Rossi is too old - ha. Talk about little faith. Rossi and JB together to tweak that Duc... Of course he will be fast.

" but this is a new era. Not just 800cc. A new style of riding. Rossi is older and maybe less adaptable than before."

Sir, with al due respect, Rossi IS the "new style", it turns out that these 800's need to be turned at higher speeds and higher revs than anything short of an F1? He instinctively founds out sticking the leg acts like an airplanes flap and counter balancing weight that helps turn the darn bike!?...he was the first one to deliberately stick out the legs at corner entry,something unseen maybe 2 years ago, now all the kids and pretenders are sticking the leg out "a la Rossi" but they can't copy the grace the Rossi uses to "test the ground" before he enters...are his boots modified? LOL

As discussed here before, nobody can tell why they do it, even Rossi can't say there is a physical benefit. It all started by accident in Jerez '05 and has gone out of control since. You usually see riders do it when they are either fending off or attacking a competitor, so I'd say it is like an iguana erecting it's back ridge. They show they're ready for the battle.

Nobody knows nothin' is the absolute truth. As good in racing as it is in film.

And I do agree that it is very good fun to speculate and predict the future. Especially when it is something as historic as Rossi's demise. And what for? Just to be able to say "I knew it was the end of Rossi".

Is Rossi on the downward part of his career? Probably so.
Are there a bunch of young bucks improving everyday and dying to take his place? Indeed.

Frankly, Rossi has done enough in his career to park his competitive edge and fart around for 2 or 3 years on a Duke just for fun if he wants to. I am definitely part of the group of people who want to see him succeed. But if he never were to win again, honestly, what diference does it make. There are plenty of successors to take the torch and continue writing racing history.

However, it never hurts to take a quick look at the stats:

Rossi years in the premier class (500, 990, 800): 11
Rossi victories in the premier class: 78

JLo+Pedro+Stoner years in premier class: 13
JLo+Pedro+Stoner victories in the premier class:48

Go figure. This tally includes 2010, Rossi's worst season and Jlo and Pedrosa's best. If I had added Hayden's performance in there, the comparison would be even worse.

Surprised that Stoner and Hayden, both world champs, get banged in there with JLo, Pedosa and Spies as "the alternative"?

Respect the GOAT

Look at Schumacher, he is statistically the greatest of all time in F1 but he's having his butt handed to him on a plate by Rosberg. Rossi, like Schumacher, has benefited for far too long by having a strict number two team mate in the most competitive environment with the best equipment. Now that things are more equalised they are both struggling and shouldn't even be considered "GOATs" of their respective sports. They had to prove themselves in a more equal environment with control tyres and equal team status but they're both failing.

For sure Rossi has achieved many things in his career, but Lorenzo has achieved an even greater thing: being able to take the fight and chase the great achiever out of his own team.

Now as I mentioned before, Rossi is only 32 years old, certainly not ancient by any means as people are trying to make out to be. Ducati will probably have more money to spend than any other MotoGP team next year and they'll have a definitive number two rider in Nicky Hayden - Rossi's right at home. If he can't challenge for a title next year then it will be a failure in my eyes. Ducati's performance in Aragon shows that the bike is on the right track and with the changes that 2011 is going to bring it can only get better.

P.S. I hate the term GOAT!

They had to prove themselves in a more equal environment with control tyres and equal team status but they're both failing.


preseason injuries are a bitch

JB has always wanted to work with an upcoming new kid.

Tom Houseworth will SHARE crewchief duties with an "As yet" unnamed party.


Yamaha would do well by retaining JB.

Ben doesnt want to lose Tom.

A compromise?

Human nature is a funny thing. Past replays in the present. Everytime a title chase appears to be done and dusted,speculation about the following season seems to take precedence above the current one.It appears that 2010 is in Lorenzo's hands,so all the faithfull go to their chrystal ball's that they may come up with the perfect prediction,especially slanted towards their favoured team/rider/flavour of the day.I'm no exception.
I bemoan the fact that Ducati did not fight to keep Stoner.
Valentino should do okay next year,subject to timeous recovery.However, switching teams in your early twenties is a vastly different issue from switching in your early thirties,whether the old guard go with you or not.
Ascendency is with Spies and Stoner in my book.
Anyway,my chrystal ball is focused on here and now.It's telling me Yamaha will be very strong at Motegi,Ducati if it ever,strong.
Should Dani have a really good Motegi and George have a bad one,this could still be a sensational 2010,like 2006.With,Casey contracted to HRC,I wouldn't rule him out of having a say in this title chase.

Yadda yadda yadda.

Don't ever count out Vale.

Spies will be 2011 champion.

I love this sport.

Oh that's right it was about the crews changing over ..... so now we really know for sure that JB is positively, definitely going to Ducati. How fabulous!!!! A new challenge for he and the crew too. We're not even done for 2010 yet and I am salivating at the prospect of what 2011 will bring. A rejuvinated Stoner and Rossi on different machines up against a determined Pedrosa and a sulking Lorenzo (OK he's pretty good too). Throw in a gifted Ben Spies and Hayden building in confidence. Are we in for a good time..... hell yeah!! In the background the pit crews coming to grips with new machinery as well ..... life is good :-)

I've probably just missed it but I can't find anything anywhere with JB saying that he is changing camps. Just lots of chat. Even the Yamaha piece didn't say JB, I think it just said most of the team (pretty sure). Is there something definite?

Everyone I spoke to inside Yamaha said without hesitation that JB and crew were leaving. None of Rossi's crew would say anything about it. But if everyone else in the team is saying that Rossi's side of the garage are leaving, and treating it as if it is public knowledge, then it is clearly public knowledge. JB and the rest of the boys won't talk about it until maybe Phillip Island. They don't need the distraction.

But if you're expecting an official Yamaha press release, don't hold your breath. Only riders and (sometimes) team managers are announced by press release. Crew members (such as electronics guru Andrea Zugna, who switched from Yamaha to Honda last year) don't merit a press release. It's regarded as an internal matter.

"Crew members (such as electronics guru Andrea Zugna, who switched from Yamaha to Honda last year) don't merit a press release. It's regarded as an internal matter."

With the growing importance of these guys behind the scenes, perhaps they should? I can see it now... 2015 silly season... which electronics tech will go where... riders no longer qualify for a press release.

For what it is worth, over beer at the Aragon castle Jeremy said he didn't know himself, and had to discuss matters with 'the Japanese'. This would happen at Motegi, but as David says, wouldn't hold breath on any press releases.

At his talk to us in Sepang last year, he said (then) that he intended to finish his career on Rossi. Implication is that he will move with him; but you can't say for sure -- he likes a challenge, and he has brought a few winners to the top steps over the years. Who knows, perhaps he wants to make Spies the next legend... :-)

Ask again at Sepang...

Gordon Howell
Managing Director, Pole Position Travel.

I should have gone to the bookies 2 months ago when I said (on the Forum) that this was gonna happen! :-)

As far as I'm aware JB still hasn't committed himself -- but it WILL happen!