How Are MotoGP Numbers Allocated?

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MotoGP is one of the most exciting live-action racing sports out there. With riders going around corners at phenomenal speeds where knees almost touch the asphalt, have you ever wondered how MotoGP numbers get allocated to drivers aside from the racing aspect of the sport?

The numbers in MotoGP are allocated depending on the results of the previous championship year. The team that won the previous year will have the right to use the number 1 plate on their motorcycles, and the team that came second will have the right to use the number 2 plate, and the list goes on.

Each number in MotoGP is unique; the number means everything to the rider and the team. We can assume some riders are a bit superstitious regarding their number. Some riders keep their numbers throughout their career, but why are numbers allocated, and why do some MotoGP riders keep their numbers?

How Are Numbers Allocated In MotoGP?

Numbers are allocated in MotoGP to identify a rider and bike. Suppose you use the number one plate and wear the number one on your racing suit. The driver is recognized as the championship rider from the previous year, and the same can be said about the no 2 and 3 to show that you have made the podium.

Riders can choose their number from 2 to 99, but a rider cannot choose the no. 2 plate, for example, if he has not finished second in the previous year’s championship. The riders can also not pick a number if the number has been retired from MotoGP or if another driver has already claimed the number.

Armed with the knowledge of how numbers are allocated in MotoGP, let us look at why some riders decide to keep their numbers throughout their entire careers.

Why Do Riders In MotoGP Use The Same Number?

The riders in MotoGP can be superstitious when it comes to their numbers. Even though some riders are championship riders, some still prefer to use the same number. Let us look at why they still use the same number plate.

  • Some riders believe their number is lucky, so they keep using the same number throughout their career.
  • The number is a rider’s identity and trademark; many don’t want to change their numbers because the number identifies them.
  • Numbers are also not changed for marketing reasons and can become difficult to change if the rider becomes successful and is associated with a specific number.
  • Merchandise of riders is also sold with their numbers, making it difficult to change their specific number.

One should also note that it is a tremendous honor and privilege for any driver to wear the number 1 plate and be able to defend it for an entire season. Now we will look at the most famous kept numbers in MotoGP.

The Most Famous Kept Numbers In MotoGP

Here is a list of riders in MotoGP who broke the tradition of changing their numbers to the number 1 plate after winning a championship and just kept their original number.

  • The number 46 belongs to Valentino Rossi. The number is iconic, and the number 46 represents Valentino Rossi with all his achievements in his MotoGP career.
  • Barry Sheen, who has won two world titles, chose and kept the number 7 because he believed the number was lucky.
  • Joan Mir, with the number 36, decided to keep his number. He has won two world championships.
  • Marq Marquez kept the 93 plates and has won two world championships.

Now that we know who has the most famous kept numbers in MotoGP, who has the most famous number in the history of MotoGP?

The Most Famous Number In MotoGP

The number 46 is the most famous in MotoGP, and here is why.

  • Valentino Rossi has won 115 times in the number.
  • He has 235 podium finishes across all the different classes of MotoGP.
  • He has been crowned the world champion nine times while using the number.

These were why the number 46 of Valentino Rossi is MotoGP’s most famous number of all time. We will now look at numbers that have been retired in MotoGP and that cannot be used anymore.

What Numbers Have Been Retired In MotoGP?

There are numbers in MotoGP that have been retired in MotoGP to honor a rider that has retired or passed away, so here is a list of numbers that have been retired.

  • Number 34, which belonged to Kevin Schwantz, was the first number to be retired in honor of all his achievements in MotoGP.
  • The number 74 of Dajiro Kato has been retired after he passed away in a tragic accident on the Suzuka track in 2003.
  • The number 58 was retired in remembrance of Marco Simoncelli after he lost his life at 24 at the Malaysian Grand Prix in 2011.
  • In honor of Nicky Hayden, the number 69 has been retired after he passed away in 2017.
  • Number 65, which Loris Capirossi used, was retired in honor of all his achievements throughout his MotoGP career.
  • Number 46, probably the most iconic number out of this list that belongs to Valentino Rossi, has recently been retired to honor all his achievements.

As we have seen, only a few numbers have been retired from MotoGP, but what are some of the most interesting facts about specific numbers in MotoGP?

Interesting Facts About Different Numbers In MotoGP

Here are a couple of exciting facts about different numbers in MotoGP.

  • Barry Sheens’ number 7 had a line though British officials tried to ban the line through the seven but were unsuccessful.
  • Valentino Rossi chose the number 46 because it was the same number his father had when he was racing.
  • In 2009 Jorge Lorenzo let the fans choose his number. The two numbers were 23 and 99. He went with the 99 and has used it ever since.
  • No rider has ever had a 0 or 00 plate in MotoGP.
  • Many riders in MotoGP believe the number 13 is unlucky and are afraid to race with the number.

These were some of the most interesting facts about different numbers in MotoGP.

Editorial credit: Harsanyi Andras /


The numbers allocated in MotoGP depend on how you finish the previous year’s season. Each number in MotoGP means a different thing to every driver. Some drivers are identified by their numbers, and others will always go down in history as world-famous and iconic.

For some, the number on their bike means everything, and fans worldwide look for that specific number when watching a MotoGP race.