With the #4 he took to 250cc title victory already in the hands of Andrea Dovizioso in MotoGP, Hiroshi Aoyama will switch to the #7 for his debut season in the premier class.

The new number, made available in MotoGP for 2010 following Chris Vermeulen's return to World Superbike, was inspired by late Japanese grand prix hero Daijiro Kato.

Kato was Japan's last 250cc world champion before Aoyama and tipped to be the country's first premier-class champion.

The 17 time 250cc race winner finished second in only his third MotoGP race, riding a 500cc Gresini Honda, and again later in the season when given one of the new 990cc RCV four-strokes.

But Kato's potential went tragically unfulfilled when he lost his life during the first race of his second premier-class season, at Suzuka in 2003. As a mark of respect, his #74 was retired from MotoGP soon after, but Aoyama can at least use one of the digits.

"My favourite number is Daijiro Kato's #74," Aoyama told Crash.net. "This year in 250 I was using the #4, from Kato's number, and next year in MotoGP I will use the #7. I will keep the #7 from now on."

Meanwhile, fellow 250cc world champion and 2010 MotoGP rookie Marco Simoncelli confirmed that he will stick with the #58, despite running with a 'T' during winter testing.

"The 'T' is just for testing. I'm not changing my number," the Italian confirmed.

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