Jorge Lorenzo confirmed Friday he will keep No. 99 on the fairing of his Yamaha M1 during the 2013 MotoGP season, eschewing the traditional No. 1 worn by the reigning champion.
Lorenzo carried No. 1 in 2011 after his first world title and finished second in the standings, 90 points behind Casey Stoner.
But it's easy to believe marketing, not superstition, drove Lorenzo's decision to stick with 99. A rider's number has become an important part of his brand in recent years, with the synonymous digits showing up on hats, shirts, stickers, flags and banners.
Valentino Rossi has carried No. 46 for his entire Grand Prix career. He was the last World Champion not to take No. 1, keeping 46 after his last world title, in 2009. The only other premier-class champion in modern times to skip the No. 1 after winning the title was Barry Sheene, who kept No. 7 after championship seasons in 1976 and 1977.
Maybe Lorenzo just wanted some numerical stability. He has carried three numbers during his five-year premier-class career, riding with No. 48 as a rookie in 2008, No. 99 in 2009, 2010 and 2012 and No. 1 in 2011.
No bikes carrying No. 1 will be seen in the MotoGP World Championship this season with Lorenzo's decision to keep No. 99. 2012 Moto2 champion Marc Marquez has climbed to MotoGP, while Moto3 champion Sandro Cortese will race in Moto2.
The single digit also will be scarce in World Superbike. Max Biaggi retired after winning the World Superbike title in 2012. But Kenan Sofuoglu will defend his World Supersport title wearing No. 1.