Reigning Virgin Australia Supercars Champion Shane van Gisbergen will shun convention in 2017, retaining his signature #97 for his title defence instead of the traditional #1.
Whilst the video displayed Van Gisbergen’s Commodore with the #1 on the side, Triple Eight Team Boss Roland Dane has confirmed to Supercars.com that the championship winning car will appear at the season-opening Clipsal 500 Adelaide with ‘SVG’s’ #97 on the door.
“We don't need a number to tell us that we're numero uno for the moment,” Dane told Supercars.com.
Dane explained Van Gisbergen’s passion for his race number – that he’s run for the majority of his racing career - and compared his decision to other motorsport champions.
“He's passionate about it, as plenty of drivers and riders are in motorsport – [Lewis] Hamilton with #44, [Valentino] Rossi with #46 - so as long as he could "sell" it to his car crew, I said yes”.
Dane said the #97 crew had split feelings about the number displayed on the Commodore, however he emphasised that they all respected SVG’s decision.
While it’s not unusual in other motorsport categories for the champion not to carry the number one, this is the first time in Supercars history that the reigning Champion has elected not to carry it for their title defence.
Though when asked if the #1 will make an appearance in 2017, Dane said “Never say never”.
2016 Virgin Australia Supercars Champion van Gisbergen simply stated, “97 has always been my number”.
“I started racing with 97 and it is only fitting I continue with it,” Van Gisbergen said.
“Everyone knows we won last year, there is no need in my opinion to rub it in. New year, new start, everyone starts with zero points.”