In recent years, the number we see on riders’ bikes has become much more than that and represents a sign of personal recognition. More and more riders give up on # 1 when they become world champions. This trend started with Valentino Rossi, followed by Jorge Lorenzo and Marc Marquez, among others.
But Valentino, in 2022, was not the first MotoGP world champion to give up this highly prized number. Already in 1977, Barry Sheen had defended the crown in the then 500cc conquered the previous year by opting for the number 7 of him that made him famous.
The 69 of the unfortunate Nicky Hayden was another number added to the list of legendary ones that can no longer be used in MotoGP. Furthermore, in 2016, following the death of Luis Salom, it was announced that 39 would be withdrawn. Officially, however, the withdrawal has not yet taken place, so this number cannot be included in the list of those that cannot be used. The same process followed the death of Jason Dupasquier, who lost his life last June (he had the number 50).
Finally, Valentino Rossi’s retirement from racing in 2021 also led to the retirement of his number, as a sign of respect and admiration on the part of motorcycling after his nine world titles. The news sparked a controversy in the paddock of the world championship and divided the cheering in two: some do not agree with the decision taken by the championship due to old statements by the Doctor in which he claimed to forego the withdrawal of his number. Others claim that Valentino has the recognition he deserves after becoming a world motorsport icon.