Further confirmation - if any was needed - that Valentino Rossi will be taking his entire crew with him to Ducati when he leaves. After Jeremy Burgess told Henny Ray Abrams at Phillip Island that he will be leaving Yamaha with Rossi, Rossi's mechanic Alex Briggs finally came clean on his Twitter page: "Next year I will be working at Ducati with the rider & all the gang. The choice was easy & made months ago."
Briggs had spent the last couple of months fending off a barrage of questions about his future on Twitter, as the amiable Australian has been a fervent and fascinating user of the social networking site, interacting eagerly with his 6000+ followers. Once Burgess had finally let his guard slip, Briggs could no longer keep up the pretense. In a further post, Briggs added some more detail about his decision to move:
"I was given the opportunity to stay at Yamaha which is a wonderful place to work & has some great people working there who will be my friends long after racing is a memory. But the reason I enjoy my job & laugh every day is because of the close group of people I work with. JB [Jeremy Burgess], Gaz [Gary Coleman], Berrnie [Bernard Ansiau], Brent [Stephens] & Matteo [Flamigni]. I left Honda with most of the guys for Yamaha & will head to Ducati with them to finish the story Valentino started with us in 2000. May the force be with us!"
With Davide Brivio having already announced that he will be leaving Yamaha to take up an independent management role (believed to be as Rossi's manager with Ducati), that leaves only Rossi's press spokesman and Yamaha's Communications Manager William Favero as the only part of Rossi's team whose future is unknown. Favero has much larger responsibilities inside Yamaha, though, and may be less disposed to leave for Ducati, who already have an outstanding communications manager in place. Beyond the pit crew and Favero, there are also several members of the Fiat Yamaha hospitality team who are huge Rossi fans, who could also be looking to move with Rossi.
The departure of Rossi's crew to Ducati leaves Yamaha with several openings, but most of those roles have already been filled by staff that Ben Spies will be bringing with him when he moves into the Yamaha factory team. As reported earlier, Spies' crew chief Tom Houseworth will be accompanying the Texan in the factory squad, bringing mechanic Greg "Woody" Wood with him. Spies will also be bringing more former team members with him to the factory MotoGP team, as Yamaha's World Superbike team manager Massimo Meregalli will be moving in to manage Spies' side of the garage, and the Sterilgarda Yamaha press chief Gavin Matheson will be coming with Meregalli to handle Spies' media duties.