For the 2008 season
The publication of the 2008 entry list last Friday confirmed one of the pending questions hanging in the air since September 23rd: Would newly-crowned MotoGP World Champion Casey Stoner choose to run the number one plate ?
The Australian had refused
to make a definitive decision on the matter when quizzed over the course of the final three races, only stating that he was leaning more towards the traditional title holder's badge of honour.
The 22 year-old's previous number, 27, was given to him by early mentor Alberto Puig and, like those given to fellow premier class riders Dani Pedrosa and Toni Elias, holds great sentimental value to Stoner.
Only two riders in the history of the World Championship have elected against the use of the number one plate as they defend the title. The first to break with tradition was MotoGP Legend Barry Sheene, who used his distinctive ‘crossed seven' even after winning the 500cc world title in 1976 and 1977. His association with the number continues in 2008 courtesy of protégé Chris Vermeulen, who readopts the figure freed up by the departure of Carlos Checa.
The second rider to pass over the single figure opportunity was five-time World Champion Valentino Rossi.
The superstitious Italian waived his number one entitlement in favour of keeping with the 46 used by both himself and father Graziano during their racing careers.
Nicky Hayden reverted to the established procedure when defending his 2006 MotoGP World Championship, although the number 69 to which he returns in 2008 was still present on his Honda RC212V during the season.
DORNA / CAPSIS International