The delay in announcing Valentino Rossi as a Yamaha rider is rumoured to be partly caused by efforts to tempt key members of Rossi's former factory Honda team - including legendary crew chief Jerry Burgess - to move with him.

Burgess is the most highly regarded member of the Repsol team after Rossi himself, having guided the likes of Randy Mamola, Ron Haslam, Freddie Spencer, Wayne Gardner and Mick Doohan before joining forces with the Italian.

By the end of this season, Burgess had claimed an unprecedented total of nine premier-class world championships as a crew chief - one with Gardner, five with Doohan and now three with Rossi.

The straight-talking Australian has been reported as saying that after working hard to establish such a great relationship with Rossi, he doesn't want to start all over again with a lesser rider... which had been interpreted as meaning the 50-year-old was considering retiring from the race team.

However, the chance to begin a new challenge - Burgess has been employed by Honda since the mid-1980s - with the #46 could well keep him in the sport.

His loss would be a massive blow to Honda, while the combination of JB, Rossi and a Yamaha factory willing to do whatever it takes to return to the top would be truly formidable.

Should Burgess leave, Doohan - now general manager of racing at HRC - could take a more 'hands on' role in the running of Honda's factory squad, although Mick has stated he prefers to step back and let the team get on with their jobs.

Rossi, having officially left Honda, is yet to announce his future team: Yamaha are firm favourites, being the only manufacturer to confirm they are in negotiation with the 24-year-old. Ducati is still possible, but increasingly unlikely.



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