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New system of permanent driver numbers excites WRC

Wednesday January 22 2020
By PETER NJENGA

The World Rally Championship is changing by the day as it competes with other global sporting events defined by television and, now, new media.

One of the most significant changes this year is permission from the International Automobile Federation (FIA) World Motorsport Council to allow FIA Priority One drivers of manufacturer teams chose their own lucky numbers which they will retain throughout their rallying careers.

The numbers were unveiled last Saturday during at the Autosport International in Birmingham, United Kingdom, and attended by all top drivers.

With this, rallying has now joined Formula One, NASCAR and football, among others, to enable fans to associate a particular number to the wearer.

It has traditionally worked well in football where jersey numbers were first worn by professional footballers in August, 1928, during a match between Arsenal and Sheffield.

Since then, particular numbers have become synonymous with players such as Pele, David Beckham and Michael Jordan.

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Brazilian legend Pele made No 10 popular worldwide since his first World Cup appearance in 1962.

Throughout his playing career with Chicago Bulls, Jordan was associated with jersey number 23.

One omission

British superstar Beckham donned jersey number 7 with Manchester United.

He, however, settled for number 23, inspired by Jordan, after moving to Real Madrid since teammate Raul was the owner of number 23.

Permanent numbers chosen by drivers are commonplace in F1 where world champion Lewis Hamilton of Britain is linked with number 44 on his Mercedes car side.

In NASCAR a driver is allowed to use his own number which is retired at the end of his career as well.

WRC priority one drivers snapped different numbers they think are lucky which they will retain throughout their careers.

One omission is car door number 1, usually reserved for the world champion which has not been picked by anybody, but naturally belonging to world champion Ott Tanak.

Tanak, of Toyota Gazoo Racing, has chosen No 8. Teammate Kris Meeke turned to his daughter and settled for number 5 and Jari-Matti Latvala 10.

Swede Andreas Mikkelsen has settled number 89 signifying his year of birth together with and co-driver Anders Jaeger’s birth.

Traditionally number 13 is considered an unlucky number which everybody and has never been used in the history of Safari Rally.

FIA “Priority 1” drivers and their door numbers: Citroen: Sebastien Ogier (1), Esapekka Lappi (4); Toyota Gazoo: Kris Meeke (5), Ott Tanak (8), Jari-Matti Latvala (10); Hyundai: Dani Sordo (6) Thierry Neuville (11), Andreas Mikkelsen (89) Sebastien Loeb (19); M-Sport Ford: Teemu Suninen (3), Elfyn Evans (33).

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