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Number seven return magnificent news for Vermeulen

Number seven return magnificent news for Vermeulen

Long-time fans of the MotoGP World Championship will be treated to a nostalgic image this year, with Chris Vermeulen's decision to switch to the number seven plate making him the first Suzuki rider to use the emblematic figure since MotoGP Legend Barry Sheene.

Long-time fans of the MotoGP World Championship will be treated to a nostalgic image this year, with Chris Vermeulen's decision to switch to the number seven plate making him the first Suzuki rider to use the emblematic figure since MotoGP Legend Barry Sheene.

The 25 year-old has a strong connection to the late great of 500cc racing, who lost his life to cancer in 2003. Having been brought to Europe by the charismatic Sheene, he adopted his mentor's number –including the famous crossed version synonymous with the former World Champion- throughout his early racing career.

For his opening two seasons in MotoGP, the Australian would find himself looking for an alternative, as the number seven was already occupied by premier class veteran Carlos Checa. He maintained the Sheene tribute in his new plate, however, by electing match the crossed seven with a number one (71).

With Checa's departure at the end of 2007, Vermeulen jumped at the chance to revert to his more familiar digit. Made official in the MotoGP entry list last month, the new GSV-R800 will signal a return home for the number seven and a proud moment for the affable Suzuki rider.

"I am really pleased to have secured the number seven on my bike for 2008," says Vermeulen. "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!"

It is not the first time that the winner of last year's French Grand Prix has displayed his influences on his bike. He has previously had a ride on Sheene's title-winning Suzuki machine, and rode a tribute livery designed to echo said bike at the his home Grand Prix at Phillip Island in 2007.

"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 was just awesome, so for me to now compete with the number seven is like the icing on the cake!" continued Vermeulen, who is setting his sights just as high as his ever-confident idol would have.

"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!"

Tags:
MotoGP, 2008, Chris Vermeulen, Rizla Suzuki MotoGP

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