Hoping to follow in Barry Sheene's footsteps
Rizla Suzuki MotoGP's Australian star Chris Vermeulen will run a new racing number on the front of his machine in 2008, using the number seven made famous by Suzuki's double World Champion Barry Sheene.
have the iconic crossed seven on his Rizla Suzuki GSV-R from the start of the forthcoming season and will be hoping that the new number will spur him on to similar success as that enjoyed by his hero and mentor Sheene.
I am really pleased to have secured the number seven on my bike for 2008. Barry was a huge influence on my career and I always had it in my mind to one day race a Suzuki with the number that he made famous on it - I just hope that I now have the same success that he enjoyed!, he commented.
It was an honour for me to ride his bike at a demonstration event in England a couple of years ago and then to have the retro livery on my bike at Phillip Island last year that was also inspired by one of Sheene's bikes was just awesome, so for me to now compete with the number seven is like the icing on the cake!
It has been over 30 years since Barry won his second world title and I will be doing all I can to make sure that I follow in his footsteps and make it my lucky number seven as well!
The 25-year-old Queenslander came to Europe to race in 2000, following the advice of Sheene, and he has always had an ambition to run the number seven on a Suzuki as a tribute to the 1976 and 1977 500cc World Champion, who lost his life to cancer in 2003. He has used 71 on his race machines in his first two seasons of MotoGP racing with Suzuki and when the chance came to change to seven - following Carlos Checa's departure from the Championship - Vermeulen jumped at the opportunity.
Vermeulen will race with his new number for the first time at Losail in Qatar on Sunday March 9th in the opening round of the 2008 MotoGP World Championship, when he will be joined by new team-mate Loris Capirossi who will still be using his familiar number 65 when he makes his debut onboard the Rizla Suzuki GSV-R.